Many of the Loess Hills’ special qualities lie with upland prairies. Clinging to the westernmost line of hills where porous soil, intense sunlight, and strong winds combine to create a desertlike environment, the native grasslands contain an unusual association of drought-resistant animals and plants typical of the Great Plains. Those species form midheight grasslands that are a radical departure from the lusher, denser tall-grass prairies typical of the remainder of either Iowa or Missouri. Today many Loess Hills prairie species are rare or endangered.
Cornelia F. Mutel, Fragile Giants: A Natural History of the Loess Hills