After years of hard work and the support of many dedicated individuals,
an iconic flower is once again thriving in Tennessee. On August 4, 2011,
the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced the removal of the Tennessee
coneflower from the Endangered Species List, marking an extraordinary
recovery from the brink of extinction. The story of the coneflower
exemplifies the power of conservation.
In 1968, Vanderbilt biology professor Elsie Quarterman and graduate
student Barbara Turner accidentally discovered the fuschia-colored
coneflowers at Mount View Cedar Glade. The plant had been thought
extinct until the rediscovery. In time, three other coneflower sites
were discovered in Davidson and Wilson counties. In 1979, the Tennessee
coneflower became one of the first plants to be recorded on the Endangered
Quarterman subsequently became a trustee of the Tennesee Chapter of The
Nature Conservancy and urged the protection of the cedar glade habitats
where the Tennessee coneflower and other rare plants have adapted to
live in harsh, stony conditions.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plans to officially remove the
wildflower by Sept. 2, from its list of plants that are near extinction.
“The Tennessee coneflower’s recovery is an example of what can be
achieved through the combined efforts of dedicated partners,” said
Cindy Dohner, the Service’s Southeast Regional Director, in an emailed
Echinacea tennesseensis was thought extinct until
Dr. Elsie Quarterman
rediscovered it in 1969 in the cedar glades which are her academic specialty.
She was 59 then.