Published in the late 1950s, "Pasture and Range Plants," a highly popular and valuable guide to plant life in the North American Plains ecosystem, was compiled by Fort Hays State University with the help of the Phillips Petroleum Co., which donated the material and artwork to complete the first edition of the handbook. That edition was successfully reprinted 12 times.
This invaluable guide to plants of the plains rangeland is now available in a new edition, the second. It has been completely revised by the FHSU Alumni Association, custodians of the book, and Dr. Robert A. Nicholson, professor of biological sciences at FHSU.
"The material for this book was originally published as a series of six separate booklets beginning in 1955. The company distributed about 900,000 booklets free to the public," said Nicholson. "The booklets were aimed at increasing farmers' and ranchers' practical knowledge of range plants. Because they were so popular and supplies became exhausted, the booklets were consolidated into a single hard-bound volume in 1963, which was published by Phillips through the mid-70s."
Former FHSU President Gerald "Jerry" W. Tomanek, a biologist by training and an internationally recognized authority on pasture and rangeland, recognized the importance and value of a comprehensive resource on the plants of the Plains and was instrumental in obtaining the original art collection and copyrights for FHSU.
The second edition includes digitally remastered plant illustrations reviewed by leading experts in the field of biological sciences and provides a review of important Great Plains plant species. It has been recognized as one of the finest contributions to understanding rangeland management.
After introductory explanations of root systems and the parts of grass plants. The main body is divided into sections on Grasses, Legumes, Forbs, and Woody Plants and Miscellaneous Poisonous Plants. A bibliography and two indexes -- one by scientific name and one by common name -- are also included.
From the black and gold cover in the first edition to the colorful collage of flowers covering the face of the second edition, the updated names of plants and the crisper, more vibrant plant illustrations bring the second edition to life.
"In revising the text, I wanted to include up-to-date information yet retain as much of the original essence as possible," said Nicholson. "The original text was written to be practical, and it included descriptions, livestock and wildlife recommendations, distribution information and some cultural facts presented with minimal technical jargon."
"This book is more than a fitting legacy to my predecessor, Dr. Gerald 'Jerry' Tomanek," said Dr. Edward Hammond, president of FHSU. "It's FHSU's way of reinforcing the importance of grasslands and plants that support our ecosystem and understanding the past, present and future of the state of Kansas, our country and our planet."
"Another unique feature of the second edition was total involvement of FHSU alumni who generously provided their professional expertise in helping proof the species accounts," said Nicholson. "Many are distinguished professionals in their own regard and lent their time and talent in contributing to the timely release of the handbook."
Copies can be purchased for $25 plus tax and handling from the FHSU Alumni Association, 600 Park Street, Hays, Kan. 67601-4099, on-line at http://www.fhsu.edu/alumni/plantbook.shtml or by calling (785) 628-4430.