three pictures of the prairie stitched together to show progression through the seasons

Pollinator Habitats

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What is a Pollinator Habitat?

Many animals are pollinators, like bats, birds, bees, wasps, butterflies, flies, beetles, ants and more. Animal pollinators are vital to flowering plant reproduction and most fruit and vegetable production. Most flowering plants and crops rely on animal pollinators. Prairie plants support a whole host of pollinators. Planting prairie on the UI campus provides crucial pollinator habitat.


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Pollinator Plants of Iowa

The plants found throughout campus pollinator habitats vary, but many of the plants are native to Iowa's natural landscape. By using native plants, we can provide pollinators a safe ecosystem and also return Iowa's original prairie to our campus. Pollinator plants may include:

  • Spiderwort
  • Milkweed
  • Goldenrod
  • Gray-headed coneflower
  • Wild bergamot


Importance of the Prairie Ecosystem

The Tallgrass Prairie ecotone is endemic to Iowa. Rich in natural splendor, a sea of grasses and wildflowers once bloomed yellow, purple, pink and every color in between. Nestled among grasses, an endless emerald expanse teemed with birds, butterflies, bees, bison and more. Follow the compass plant north and immerse yourself amongst the sounds and sights of life. Biodiversity abounds, overwhelming you with a sense of awe. There is innate worth in a native ecosystem. The multitude of ecosystem services can be employed to counter the destructive impacts of climate change. Wildlife habitat is priceless, native birds, insects and others depend on the prairie.

In many ways, the future of humanity is linked to the health of prairie. The connection to the prairie ecosystem is beyond the written record and human memory.  Beginning with indigenous nations, such as the Báxoǰe (Ioway) and Meskwaki, who first called this land their home, the prairie holds a unique role in the culture and history of Iowa. Its legacy must be conserved and protected. As Samuel Calvin, Iowa’s first geologist, said: “long before there were any historians, events of historical importance were enacted within the limits of Iowa.”



About the Prairie

Until the early 1840's, the vast majority of Iowa was an ocean of prairie, a grassland ecosystem now known as the Tallgrass...


The IMU Footbridge is home to one of the many pollinator gardens on our campus. Created in 2018, this garden was a collaborative effort...


The Mormon Handcart Park is home to a rich history as well as beautiful wildlife. This area was protected by the state of Iowa in 1976 to...

Among the University of Iowa campus, there are many smaller pollinator habitats. They greatly contribute to the ecosystem and provide safety for...