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The Flora of the University of the South

Over the last two decades, members of the Plant Ecology & Conservation Lab and the staff of the Sewanee Herbarium have surveyed the plant communities on Sewanee' 13,ooo acre campus. We have found that the Domain of the University of the South has 1,120 vascular plant species and lesser taxa. We have identified 15 distinct plant communities on  Sewanee's Domain.  Digital images of Flora voucher specimens can be viewed on the SERNEC portal using the collection search function.


Evans, J.P., *C.A. Oldfield, M.P. Priestley, Y.M. Gottfried, L.D. Estes, *A. Sidik, and G.S. Ramseur.  2016.   The vascular flora of the University of the South, Sewanee, Tennessee.  Castanea 81: 206-236.  

This publication won the 2017 Windler Prize in Systematics from the Southern Appalachian Botanical Society.


Sewanee: The University of the South, located in Franklin County, Tennessee, is a 5,263 hectare site that encompasses a variety of plateau and cove habitats on the southern Cumberland Plateau in southeastern Tennessee. The vascular flora of the University of the South was documented from 1948-2015 and comprises 1,118 species and lesser taxa which make up 551 genera and 150 families. We documented 229 exotic taxa, which represents 20.5% of the flora. This flora contains six state records, 74 Franklin County records, and two potential new species. Eighteen taxa are listed as protected either at the state or federal level, including the federally listed endangered Clematis morefieldii and state listed endangered Diamorpha smallii, Silphium brachiatum, and Symphyotrichum pratense. When compared to the five other published floras for the southern Cumberland Plateau in Tennessee, the University of the South flora is the most diverse, capturing 69% of the total taxa at the species level for the region. The high diversity of plant species in the University of the South flora reflects the broad range of habitats that can be found within the campus and contiguous natural areas. This flora demonstrates that herbaria at small liberal arts colleges can play an important role in the documentation and promotion of plant biodiversity within their region.

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