Photo of white pine needles

Iowa has two kinds of native evergreen trees, which stay green year-round due to their rolled-up, waxy leaves that are known as needles. These leaves are resistant to cold and stay moist, keep them green all year long. Eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana) Red cedars are native to Iowa, but they are often considered a…

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Photo of a green ash in fall

Iowa has several different species of ash trees: Black ash (Fraxinus nigra), green ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica) and white ash (Fraxinus americana). However, only one kind is native to the northwest corner of the state — green ash. Black ash is found in the eastern half of Iowa, and white ash is common in the southeastern…

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Photo of basswood tree

It seems like, when people list the trees of Iowa, that many don’t think about, or possibly know about, basswood (Tilia americana). However, basswood is a common tree that occurs statewide and is often interspersed with maples and oaks. Size Basswoods grow 75-100 feet or more, and they grow quickly. If planted at the same…

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Photo of Aldo Leopold

The great plains toads at the Dickinson County Nature Center are named Al and Wally. Photo of Great Plains toad Wally is named after Alfred R. Wallace (read more about him here), and Al is named after Iowa-born conservationist Aldo Leopold. Leopold was born in 1887 in Burlington and spent much of his youth in…

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Photo of cottonwood seeds

If you walk around the Iowa Great Lakes, you’ll see plenty of towering cottonwood trees (Populus deltoides). They live to be 80-100 years old, although they have weak branches that struggle to withstand ice and rain. The heartwood of the trunk tends to rot inside a cottonwood, and sometimes when branches break off, that allows small…

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Photo of bur oak trees

Iowa’s state tree is the oak, although the State Legislature never designated a specific species of oak. The state has 12 species of native oak trees: Pin oak Red oak Shingle oak Northern pin oak Black oak Blackjack oak White oak Bur oak Swamp white oak Chinkapin Post oak Dwarf chinkapin oak Of those, two…

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Photo of common yellowthroat

Warblers are quite the mystery. They fly high and sit high in the trees when they do land. They flit quickly. They are tiny. Some look a lot alike. However, for most birders, warbler season is one of the highlights of the year. Most warblers simply migrate through Iowa, especially northwest Iowa, but there are…

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Graphic defining asteroid

Did you know that April is Global Astronomy Month? When you look into the night sky, you can only see a small taste of what is actually out there. Stars, black holes, galaxies, comets, asteroids, meteors. However, sometimes that world of astronomy can get confusing quick. So we decided it would be wise to define…

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Photo of person fishing

Westport Park, located in the southwest corner of Dickinson County, is a little hidden gem for those looking to spend some time outdoors. Let’s take a look at five activities you can do at one of the county’s pristine parks: Fish Westport Park was once home to a state record bass. Even if you don’t…

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Photo of a geode

A geode has many definitions, comes in many shapes and sizes and has an interior that can look many different ways. This interesting natural phenomenon is Iowa’s state rock. Geodes begin when a cavity is formed inside of a rock, which can happen in different ways. First, geodes can form in igneous rock. When lava…

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