I first met Larry Eilers in a chat-and-chew diner in Grinnell, Iowa, in 1993. Friends had brought him along to a meeting so that he could decide whether he wanted to entrust his life’s work to the University of Iowa Press. I must have passed the test, because we soon started to work on the complicated, unwieldy manuscript that became The Vascular Plants of Iowa. Published in 1994, the result of many years of research and writing and enhanced by ecologist Dean Roosa’s discussion of the origins of the Iowa flora, Larry’s painstakingly annotated checklist of the vascular plants of Iowa remains the definitive resource for Iowa botanists.
Larry died suddenly in 2000; speakers at his memorial service emphasized his devotion to the wonders of tallgrass prairie plants. An early adopter of computers and all things technological, as befits his engineering background, he would have been delighted to see his camera-ready checklist transformed into this elegant digital edition. He would have loved the fact that it is searchable, not just by scientific and common names but by regions and major groups. This electronic edition is a superb example of the ways in which classic reference books can be given new life in a digital environment.
Director, University of Iowa Press