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Visiting Information

Dean’s Woods Dean’s Woods (also known as the Deanbrook Nature Area) is a parcel of land owned by the University of Tennessee. It is a resource regularly used by the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology in teaching field classes in plant biology. Dean’s Woods consists of roughly 20 acres and is situated along Woodson Drive in South Knoxville. This land was owned by Mr. J. H. Dean and he had a recreational interest in plants, but more specifically he was interested in ferns. He frequently collected specimens with Dr. Jack Sharp (Department Head at the time) from across the state to enrich the flora of the wooded property. Dr. Sharp recommended the University of Tennessee purchase the tract to be used by Botany classes. It has remained relatively undisturbed over the years and provides a resource to faculty, students and area residents.

Dean’s Woods is primarily used for field trips in Field Botany, Field Ecology, plant material for various Botany courses, and insect collection/research. Plants that thrive on the site include Canada Violet, Celandine Poppy, Columbine, Dutchman’s Breeches, Golden Seal, Jack-in-the-Pulpit, Shortia, Spring Beauty, Squirrel Corn, Virginia Bluebells, and Yellowroot. Many other species occur on the site including some invasive species from area resident properties.

In order to combat these invasive species, we have a spring and fall workday powered by volunteers to remove unwanted plant specimens. By removing invasive and unwanted plants, the native wildflowers are given an opportunity to grow without aggressive competition alongside the trails.

A single, main trail runs the long axis of the property (from Woodson Drive toward Bunker Hill), and there are two side trails; one along the Deanbrook Creek at the front and the other to a limestone outcropping near the middle of the property. The trail crosses the Deanbrook Creek over a series of steppingstones and can become displaced by flooding so use caution when crossing.

The Dean’s Woods property represents the only woodland area available to the department near campus and is a valuable teaching resource. Trail maintenance is performed when fallen trees and limbs block access to the trail and plants, but the area is mostly left to its own. Fortunately, development is not suitable because of the steep, rocky slopes that prevail over much of the property. The current usage is optimal for the property and is visited by area residents and wildflower enthusiasts.

Contact Jeff Martin for more information and Workday volunteer dates.