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Jewels of the Plains

Wildflowers of the Great Plains Grasslands and Hills

2015
Author:

Claude A. Barr
Edited by James H. Locklear

Jewels of the Plains

A revised edition of the classic guide to the wildflowers of the Great Plains

Jewels of the Plains describes the natural history and garden merits of more than five hundred Great Plains wildflowers in this revised edition. Wonderfully written and deeply researched, it’s a pioneering text on native plant horticulture that details plant life on the prairie.

Yesterday almost at dusk, neighbors brought their guests to see the garden. Although some white evening primroses were out, the large-flowered yellow kinds were at best just showing the promise of color between the rupturing calyx segments, a full hour beyond normal opening. Fifteen minutes later, when alone, I took another turn about the garden, to find many of the yellow ones displaying a dozen or more wide open suns—or moons if you like—though their color is a far more intimate tone than the most brilliant moon, and about them is an air of softness and generosity that dispenses a breathable atmosphere suitable to our earth.

Claude A. Barr, from the Preface

From Abronia to Zinnia, Jewels of the Plains describes the natural history and garden merits of more than five hundred Great Plains wildflowers. Considered the authoritative guide by native plant enthusiasts and horticulturists, it captures the unique beauty, resilience, and variety of wildflowers in the Great Plains.

Claude A. Barr did not set out to be a writer. In 1910, he homesteaded 160 acres of prairie in the southwest corner of South Dakota, intending to become a farmer. Despite challenging conditions, Barr fell in love with the land and its native flora. He began contributing profiles of plains wildflowers to gardening magazines, which precipitated requests for seed and led him to start a mail-order nursery, Prairie Gem Ranch. What began as a Depression-era sideline eventually gained a worldwide clientele, and Barr became a respected ambassador for the wildflowers of this part of the American landscape.

Decades of observing plants in the wild and growing them for his nursery, as well as careful study of scientific sources, gave Barr unequaled knowledge that culminated in this acclaimed book. Wonderfully written and deeply researched, Jewels of the Plains is more than a field guide or how-to manual. It’s a pioneering text on native plant horticulture that details plant life on the prairie in the voice of one with intimate familiarity with the subject. Each description reads like a mini nature essay, giving insight into both the plants and Barr’s engaging personality.

Edited to incorporate new scientific information, this edition includes an Introduction and supplemental notes by botanist and horticulturist James H. Locklear. He places Barr’s remarkable life and work in historic and scientific context, illuminating his accomplishments from a fresh perspective.

Jewels of the Plains

Claude A. Barr (1887–1982) was a South Dakota homesteader who achieved international acclaim as an authority on the native plants of the Great Plains.

James H. Locklear is director of conservation at Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, Nebraska, and author of Phlox: A Natural History and Gardener’s Guide.

Jewels of the Plains

Yesterday almost at dusk, neighbors brought their guests to see the garden. Although some white evening primroses were out, the large-flowered yellow kinds were at best just showing the promise of color between the rupturing calyx segments, a full hour beyond normal opening. Fifteen minutes later, when alone, I took another turn about the garden, to find many of the yellow ones displaying a dozen or more wide open suns—or moons if you like—though their color is a far more intimate tone than the most brilliant moon, and about them is an air of softness and generosity that dispenses a breathable atmosphere suitable to our earth.

Claude A. Barr, from the Preface

Barr’s descriptive writing is as entertaining as it is educational.

Omaha World-Herald

Groundbreaking work.

South Dakota Public Radio

A delight to read.

Northern Gardener

Barr does a fantastic job of describing the plants and writes about them in a way that is not often seen.

Botanical Society of America

Jewels of the Plains

Contents

Introduction to the Revised Edition
James H. Locklear
Jewels of the Plains
Foreword to the First Edition
H. Lincoln Foster
Preface to the First Edition
The Great Plains
The Great Plains Native Plants
The Great Plains Plants in the Wild and in the Garden
The Botanical Contributions of Claude A. Barr
Ronald R. Weedon
Notes to the Revised Edition
Glossary
Bibliography
General Index
Scientific Index