Book Review: Prairie Wildflowers

Don Kurz, 272 pages, field guide, Falcon Guides, paperback, $24.95

If we haven’t mentioned it lately, let me go on record and say that we here at Missouri Life love prairies. These native grasslands once accounted for mind-boggling swaths of land in our state. They provided ample forage for massive bison herds and prevented erosion all while sequestering carbon. In addition, they are home to a field guide worth of dazzling wildflowers in bloom from late spring through fall.

That field guide is Prairie Wildflowers: A Guide to Flowering Plants from the Midwest to the Great Plains, a recent title from Falcon Guides, which specializes in books concerning nature and the outdoors. Authored by Don Kurz, the book is arranged by color, making it easy to identify the flowers you come across while tramping around Prairie State Park or Tucker Prairie Natural Area. As the book’s subtitle implies, it has application outside the Show-Me State as well.

Each species contained inside the book is accompanied by a color photo, the flower’s common name, its Latin name and family, a description, its bloom season, its habitat and range, and some additional information. The identification guide is preceded by an informational intro, and the book also includes a guide to weeds, a glossary, and an index. These features will allow you to identify flower species with confidence, but they also serve an ancillary purpose for the particularly prairie-obsessed: you can thumb through it and daydream about hiking through lush grasslands any time. This feature will come in handy as we move into colder weather, one imagines.