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Poweshiek County

Site: 17
Blue Eyed Grass Downy Gentian Hoary Pucoon Stiff Golden Rod New Jersey Tea Rattlesnake Master Rough Blazing Star Malcom Row
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 Location: This site is located in Section 21 of Malcom Township. To reach the site from Highway 6, turn south on Highway 63 and proceed to the town of Malcom. Turn right (west) on Second Street in Malcom (before you reach the railroad tracks). Continue to 110th Street, which becomes Diagonal Road. Follow Diagonal Road for half a mile to reach the remnant area. The remnant is on both sides of the road, as well as on the far side of the railroad tracks for about a mile.

Prairie fires were a great concern to early travelers. The following account, by Dr. R.E. Sears, relates an experience he had traveling across the prairie in Poweshiek County in 1854: "…I started for the tavern of our old, patriarchal, pioneer uncle, Robert Manatt, or 'Uncle Bobbie,' as he was familiarly called, which I reached about sundown, having met with quite an adventure on my way. The road was not much traveled and fire in the grass was running before a brisk south wind like a race horse. I soon found myself between two prairie fires which were rapidly approaching me. Having a supply of matches with me, I started a fire on the north side of the road, and before the other fire reached me was on a burned spot of ground."

Spring at this site is highlighted by the blooming of Golden alexanders, in bloom from May to June. This site is a great place to glimpse the interesting Porcupine grass and Prairie willow, in bloom from May to June. The optimal time to visit, however, is from late May to August when this site is covered by an incredible display of purple prairie clovers, as well as New Jersey tea and native roses. Fall, from August to October, give way to a beautiful display of asters, goldenrods and native grasses.

New Jersey Tea, which is found in this remnant, is called kituki manito by the Meskwaki. This plant is a low growing shrub found in prairie areas. During the spring, the Meskwaki traditionally harvested the leaves when the flower was in bloom and used them fresh, or dried them for tea. New Jersey tea was known as the best substitute among prairie plants for tea. Its scientific name is Ceanothus americanus. Ceanothus is an ancient name whose meaning is lost; americanus means "from America" in Latin.

Bunch Flower
photo by C. Taliga

Photo by Carl Kurtz

Praire Fire "Prairie Fire," an 1857 lithograph by Henry Lewis, Collection of the State Historical Society of Iowa.