Rubbernecking Rarities

One of SGI’s volunteer rubberneckers, searching for roadside grasslands, observed some excellent grassland indicator species while driving Hwy 70 in May 2019! Check out the observations our volunteer Meredith Clebsch made on iNaturalist, as well as some of her best finds below. Some of the notable grassland indicators she observed include:

·         Sampson’s snakeroot

·         Narrow-leaved sundrops

·         Clustered mountainmint

·         Wild quinine

·         Soft thistle

·         Prairie willow

·         New Jersey tea

Shown above, top to bottom and left to right: Sampson’s snakeroot, Narrow-leaved sundrops, Clustered mountainmint, Wild quinine, Soft thistle, Prairie willow.


Dwayne Estes, SGI Director, sent his hearty thanks to Meredith for helping SGI to uncover a grassland remnant so early in the “Rubbernecking" program. He provided context, noting that the late Dr. Hal DeSelm, plant ecologist at UT Knoxville from the 1950s-early 2000s, used to visit a roadside "barren," as he called it, along Hwy. 70 near Crossville, which he called the Crossville Prairie. We believe the site Meredith helped to rediscover is the same one Dr. DeSelm described in his paper, ”Barrens of the Cumberland Plateau,” published in the 1980s.  

Meredith, who was a student of Dr. DeSelm’s in the 1980s said, “I expect I may have been to these sites then but don't remember.  Glad they are still there. Thanks for putting this project together.”

Dwayne continues to emphasize how important SGI’s volunteers are. “Without you being the eyes and ears on the ground, we will continue to lose these tiny sites that are so very special and important. Remember, the seeds that these sites hold are critical to future restoration efforts, but for us to conserve grasslands effectively we have to first know WHERE they are and WHAT they contain. That's where you all help make the difference!

New Jersey tea