Ada Hayden

The Iowa State Botanist

Today is the birthday of botanist Ada Hayden.
Ada was the curator of the Iowa State University herbarium.
As a young girl growing up in Ames, Iowa, she fell in love with the flora surrounding her family’s home. Ada was a talented photographer, artist, and writer, and she put all of those skills to good use documenting Iowa’s prairies.
And, Ada became the first woman to earn a Ph.D. from Iowa State.
Ada inherited her grandparent's farm, and she often brought her botany students there to walk through the Prairie and to take notes on their observations.
Ada’s life work was to save the vanishing prairie ecosystem.
Ada loved the Prairie. She wrote,

"Throughout the season, from April to October, the colorful flowers of the grassland flora present a rainbow-hued sequence of bloom. It is identified with the open sky. It is the unprotected battleground of wind and weather.”

When Ada died, the University named a 240-acre-tract of virgin Prairie, Hayden Prairie, in her honor.

This post was featured on
The Daily Gardener podcast:

helping gardeners find their roots,
one story at a time
Ada Hayden
Ada Hayden

Leave a Comment