• A quiet summer walk through the Marching Bear Group of effigy mounds

    Effigy Mounds

    National Monument Iowa


cardinal flower

Cardinal Flower

The natural environment of the Upper Mississippi River Valley gave the American Indian and early pioneer settlers an abundance of plants and wildflowers from which the derived both food and medicine. These wildflowers are as varied as the land itself; some populate the upland forests, others line the rich riverbanks; still others grace the sweeping grasslands. Along the base of the bluffs, where the wetland landscape merges with the uplands, the transition from floodplain forest gives way to the upland forest.

This transition area produces some of the best wildflower displays in the spring. Early woodland and prairie wildflowers signal winter's end with their exuberant colors. Noteworthy spring flowers are the Dutchman's breeches, wild geranium, bellwort, bloodroot, wild violets, trillium, rue anemone, and wild ginger.

As the summer's heat progresses, many species of asters along with may apples, Virginia waterleaf, daisy fleabane, cardinal flower, jewelweed, woodland sunflower, bergamot, and goldenrod add their vibrant colors to the fray.

Also the prairies are in bloom during the summer. Take a walk to the native prairie or the restored prairie to see yellow stargrass, wild bergamot, blackeyed Susan, blue vervain, butterfly milkweed, clover, coneflower, Culver's root, flowering spurge, lead plant and many more.

Did You Know?

Ellison Orr at Desk: Most of Orr's collections reside at effigy Mounds National Monument

An important figure in the documentation of Iowa's effigy mounds was Ellison Orr. Born in 1857, Orr worked other jobs while pursuing research in archeology. After retiring at the age of 73, Orr began a career as an archeologist spending the next 20 years conducting surveys and excavations.