Sewanee’s Endangered Plants

The Tennessee Natural Heritage Program under the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation releases a list of rare plant species that are protected by law in the state. Some are also federally listed and protected by the Endangered Species Act of 1973. The current list can be accessed here. As of 2015, the Domain hosts 19 state protected taxa, one of which is also federally protected. Of these, four are considered endangered in the state.

Clematis morefieldiiOur federally endangered species is Clematis morefieldii (Huntsville vasevine), which is thought to be present in a few contiguous counties in Tennessee and Alabama. This vine is found on limestone stream-side on the Domain. We visited our population in 2013, and Hali Steinmann wrote about the experience here.

Diamorpha smalliiAnother very fascinating species that can be found on the Domain is the state endangered Diamorpha smallii (Elf orpine). This sandstone outcrop species is rare in Tennessee, but can also be found in Georgia, Alabama, North and South Carolina, and Virginia. It is an ant-pollinated succulent with tiny green and red leaves, and it produces white flowers in April and May. You can read more about its presence on the Domain in Thomas Walter’s post here.

Silphium brachiatumSilphium brachiatum (Cumberland rosinweed) is found only on the Cumberland Plateau of Tennessee and Alabama, and is considered endangered in Tennessee. Rosinweeds are part of the sunflower tribe, and flowers are typically yellow. This tall perennial prefers rocky limestone-rich woods, but can also be found in disturbance. Our particular population exists in a powerline in Lost Cove. More about this rare population and Tennessee’s efforts to protect it can be found in Mary Priestly’s post.

Symphyotrichum pratenseSymphyotrichum pratense (Barrens silky aster) is considered endangered in Tennessee, with a few disjoint populations throughout the state in barrens habitats. This perennial herb produces purple flowers from August to September.

Threatened taxa on the Domain include Juglans cinerea, Liatris cylindracea, Lycopodiella alopecuroides, Phemeranthus teretifolius, Phlox subulata, Sceptridium jenmanii, Silphium pinnatifidum, Trichomnes boschianum, and Allium burdickii.

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About Callie Oldfield

I was a Post-Baccalaureate Fellow for the Sewanee Herbarium from Winter 2015-Summer 2016. I am currently a PhD student studying Plant Biology at the University of Georgia.

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