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The Tennessee Coneflower

With shallow soil and lots of limestone, a cedar glade can be a tough place to live. But that hasn’t stopped a flower that bears the name of a state from calling it home. The Tennessee coneflower can only be found in a three county area of Middle Tennessee. Once thought to be extinct, this unique flower was one of the first plants to be designated as endangered. But as Wild Side Guide Ken Tucker discovered, today the coneflower is not just surviving, but thriving, thanks in part to the help of some caring people.

Vanderbilt biology professor Elsie Quarterman accidentally rediscovered the fuschia-colored coneflowers at Mount View Cedar Glade in 1968. Three other coneflower sites were discovered in Davidson and Wilson counties. Beginning in 1984, the Nature Conservancy began purchasing land where the coneflowers grew in an effort to protect the flower. In all the Conservancy purchased six different cedar glades, including Couchville Cedar Glade, where we videotaped this story, Vesta Cedar Glade, and Mount View Cedar Glade…transferring the properties to the TN Department of Environment and Conservation where they are managed as protected State Natural Areas.

In 2011, the flower was removed from the Endangered Species List, a testament to the power of conservation. Our thanks to the Nature Conservancy for their help in puting this story together. And of course, to fine art nature photographer Byron Jorjorian for once again taking us out to look through his lens and see the world a little more clearly.

From show 2702