It's not the showiest flower of the Tennessee cedar glades, but the Tennessee coneflower (Echinacea tennesseensis) is definitely the star.
Once thought to be lost forever, the prehistoric-looking Tennessee coneflower is thriving in a few locations near Nashville thanks to some helpful friends.
The Tennessee coneflower, which is currently in bloom, last year was taken off the endangered list after the Nature Conservancy, state park naturalists, MTSU professors and others helped protect some of the few places it is able to grow.
It can be seen at the Couchville Natural Area, which backs up to Long Hunter State Park east of Nashville, and at the much-larger Cedars of Lebanon State Park further east.
The Tennessee coneflower first came to notice in Rutherford County in the 1890s, then it was long lost. But it was rediscovered in the 1960s at 10 locations in Rutherford, Davidson and Wilson counties.
Its cause got a major boost a few years ago when it was selected to be featured on the cover of the phone book.
The Tennessee coneflower survives in the harsh conditions of the Middle Tennessee cedar glades by putting down a long taproot. It dies down late in the season and is resurrected in the spring to once again reach for the sun in the rocky, sun-baked glades.