Ada Hayden

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Ada Hayden
Ada Hayden.jpg
Born14 August 1884
Died12 August 1950

Ada Hayden (14 August 1884 – 12 August 1950) was an American botanist, educator, and preservationist. She was the curator of the Iowa State University Herbarium, which was renamed the Ada Hayden Herbarium (ISC) in her honour in 1988.[1] During her career, she added more than 40,000 specimens to the herbarium.[2] Her studies and conservation work were particularly important in ensuring the preservation of the tallgrass prairie.[3] The Hayden Prairie State Preserve was also named in her honour.[4] She was an active member of the Ecological Society of America for many years.[5]

Childhood and education

Ada Hayden was born 14 August 1884 near Ames, Iowa to Maitland David Hayden and Christine Hayden. While still in high school, Louis Hermann Pammel became Ada's mentor. She earned a bachelor's degree from Iowa State College in 1908, studying botany, a master's degree from Washington University in St. Louis in 1910, and a Ph.D. from Iowa State in 1918. She was the first woman and fourth person to receive a doctorate from Iowa State College.[2][3]


Hayden taught botany as an instructor at Iowa State beginning in 1911. She became an assistant professor of botany in 1920, and a research assistant professor at the Agricultural Experimental Station (Lakes Region) and curator of the herbarium in 1934. She worked closely with Louis Pammel and Charlotte King, contributing to The Weed Flora of Iowa (1926) and Honey Plants of Iowa (1930).[2]

She concentrated on prairie plants of the lakes region, and is credited with "possibly the best published native flora survey… of any part of Iowa". She was an early advocate of prairie preservation, writing and speaking in its support. In 1944, she and J. M. Aikman released a report identifying possible areas of preservable prairie in Iowa and Hayden became director of the "Prairie Project". She systematically developed a database of information relevant for decisions about land acquisition, working with the State Conservation Commission (SCC) to purchase areas of relict prairie.[2]

Ada Hayden died of cancer in 1950. The Hayden Prairie, the first area dedicated as a preserve under the 1965 State Preserves Act, is named in her honor.[2] Ames, Iowa's Ada Hayden Heritage Park also honors the botanist.


  1. ^ "The Ada Hayden Herbarium". Iowa State University. Retrieved 27 March 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d e Conard, Rebecca (2009). Hudson, David; Bergman, Marvin; Horton, Loren (eds.). The biographical dictionary of Iowa. Iowa City: Published for the State Historical Society of Iowa by the University of Iowa Press. Retrieved 30 March 2015.
  3. ^ a b Shirley, Shirley (1994). Restoring the tallgrass prairie an illustrated manual for Iowa and the upper Midwest. Iowa City, IA: University of Iowa Press. ISBN 9781587292200.
  4. ^ Herzberg, Ruth, and Pearson, John A. (2001). The Guide to Iowa's State Preserves. Iowa City IA: University of Iowa Press. p. 71. ISBN 978-0-87745-774-9.
  5. ^ "Ada Hayden, Preserving Iowa's Prairies". Ecological Society of America. Retrieved 25 March 2016.