Displaying items by tag: Hal DeSelm
KNOXVILLE — Hellbender Press took home two awards from the 2021 Golden Press Card contest sponsored by the East Tennessee Society of Professional Journalists.
Volunteers play the part of fire to maintain the native grasses and wildflowers at an Oak Ridge cedar barren
OAK RIDGE — It’s called a barren, but it’s not barren at all. It’s actually a natural Tennessee prairie, full of intricate, interlocking natural parts, from rocks and soil to plants and insects and animals.
There’s lots of life in these small remaining unique collections of grasses and conifers that are typically known, semi-colloquially, as cedar barrens.
Many of these “barrens” have been buried beneath illegal dumping or asphalt, but remnants they are still tucked away here and there, including a small barren in Oak Ridge owned by the city and recognized by the state as a small natural area.
A life dedicated to the flora of Tennessee
Dr. Hal DeSelm clambered around the crest of Cherokee Bluff in the heat of a late Knoxville summer 22 years ago. The Tennessee River flowed languidly some 500 feet below. Beyond the river stood the campus of the University of Tennessee Agriculture Institute. The towers of the city center rose to the northeast beyond the bridges of the old frontier river town.
DeSelm was not interested in the views of the urban landscape below. He was interested in the native trees, shrubs, herbs and grasses that clung to the ancient cliffside with firm but ultimately ephemeral grips on the craggy soil.
The retired UT professor, a renowned ecologist and botanist who died in 2011, had been sampling the terrestrial flora of Tennessee for decades. The life-long project took on a new urgency in the early 1990s, when he accelerated his data collection in hopes of writing the authoritative guide to the natural vegetation native to the forests, barrens, bogs and prairies of pre-European Tennessee.
Between 1993 and 2002, DeSelm collected 4,184 data points from 3,657 plots across the state. Many of those plots have since been lost to development, highways, and agriculture, or overrun by exotic species, but he assembled an invaluable baseline of the native landscape. Many of the sites he recorded have since been lost to development.
- Tennessee River
- native plant
- native tree
- native herb
- native grass
- native shrub
- University of Tennessee
- terrestrial flora
- cedar barren
- Hal DeSelm
- Cherokee Bluff
- University of Tennessee Agricultural Institute
- native landscape
- preEuropean Tennessee
- natural vegetation
- sampling plot
- exotic species
- invasive species
- Todd Crabtree
- Tennessee State Botanist
- Natural Heritage Program
- ground cover
- herbaceous growth
- soil type
- baseline data