Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Wildflowers blooming throughout the Great Smoky Mountains national park right now

Though the last 24 hours may feel more like winter than spring, the wild flowers throughout the Great Smoky Mountains national park have been blooming for weeks.

While I feel as though the best time to catch the wildflowers is from April to May, the Great Smoky Mountains are blessed with such biodiversity and micro climates that you can find plants blooming until mid October.

picture of Dutchmen's Breeches taken by the Chimneys in the Great Smoky Mountains national park

What's great about the park being so large and having more than a 4,000 foot elevation range between its highest an lowest point is that you can chase a blooming season starting at lower elevations and warmer southern exposures to the higher elevations and more northern exposures to prolong the duration of peak bloom.

I have made a list below of plants observed in bloom while I was hiking inside the GSM national park.

A trillium leaves and bloom in the GSMNP

The first wildflowers I observed blooming in the Great Smoky Mountains national park were Toothwort, Large Flowering Trillium, Yellow Trillium and Blood Root.

Also deep into the bloom cycle right now are Squirrel Corn, Sweet White Violets, Spring Beauty, Trout Lily, Dutchmen's Breeches, Halbred Leaf Violet, Common Blue Violet, Smooth Yellow Violet, Trillium Erect, White Fringed Phacelia, Rue Anemone, Fraser's Sedge and Wild Ginger.

Just starting to show right now are Wild Phlox, Wild Geranium, Hepatica, Wood Anemone, Prostrate Bluets, Bishop Caps and Birdfoot Violet.

While some of the wild flowers in the GSMNP are big, bright and showy, others can only really be appreciated with a magnifying glass. An example of one of the tiny flowers is pictured right below. The individual flowers in this grouping are so small see how large the tip of a house key looks near them.

tiny wildflowers blooming in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

My favorite wildflower hiking trails (not in specific order) are Old Settlers Trail, Porter Creek, Big Creek, Finley Cane, Lower Mount Cammerer, Cucumber Gap, Thomas Divide, Rattlesnake, the lower part of Low Gap, Camel Gap and Baxter Creek, Goshen Prong, Flat Creek, Wet Bottoms, Ace Gap, Beard Cane and Mingus Creek. (Complete list of hiking trails in the Great Smoky Mountains national park and what sections they are in)

Beside these highlights I listed, every single hiking trail in the Great Smoky Mountains national park has its own treasure of wildflowers you can see.

Don't want to go hiking to see wildflowers? You can see countless wildflowers right along the roadside or on any of the quiet walks along Newfound Gap Road, Laurel Creek Road and Little River Road.

I am sure that I have missed many great wildflowers found inside the park blooming right now and have not had a chance to identify many of the plants I have seen as well so please feel free to comment to this post so I can add in your observations. I ask that you do not identify specific locations of endangered, rare or plants highly prized by poachers such as Yellow Ladyslipper or Ginseng.

Please observe the federal laws protecting all plants and wildlife in the Great Smoky Mountains national park by taking only pictures and when doing so be careful not to crush or disturb nearby plants.

Wildflower season in the Great Smoky Mountains national park is breathtaking and magical. Please leave the magic for others to enjoy.

1 comment:

smoky scout said...

Hi Chris - I am glad to finally see some of your awesome flower photographs!