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Cumberland Sandwort Removed From Endangered Species List

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
Cumberland Sandwort Removed From Endangered Species List

A flowering herb that only grows in four Tennessee counties including Fentress County and Pickett County has recovered as an endangered species.

The Cumberland Sandwort is a small, delicate plant that grows in the sandy floors and sandstone ledges of the Cumberland Plateau.

TDEC Natural Heritage Program Manager David Lincicome said the white/pinkish flower has been endangered since 1988.

“It wasn’t so much that the numbers were dwindling, but it was the fact that it had such a limited range and we didn’t know a whole lot about it and it had that specialized habitat that has been threatened some,” Lincicome said.

Lincicome said the plants habitat was impacted from artifact diggers and hiking trails. Lincicome said the plant grows under cool, moist sandstone overhangs in sandy soil and along ledges.

“There are actually more plants listed on the endangered species list then there are animals,” Lincicome said. “This particular plant has a very limited range. Only four counties in Tennessee and one in Kentucky and that is the only place in the entire world that the species grows.”

Over the years, Lincicome said bluff lines have been fenced to stabilize the plant’s environment. The species numbers also benefited from biologists searching for the herb.

“The numbers have actually increased, because the work biologists have done,” Lincicome said. “That’s why we are able today to call it recovered.”

TDEC and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will gather at Pickett CCC Memorial State Park Friday to celebrate. Officials will hike Hazard Cave to view the Cumberland Sandwort.


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