SPRING/SUMMER FLOWER BLOOMING SEASON
Great Smoky Mountain National Park is known for its wildflower diversity. More than 1,500 kinds of flowering plants are found in the park, more than any other North American national park. In fact, the park is sometimes referred to as the “Wildflower National Park.” Blooming flowers can be found in the park year-round, but flourish in the spring and summer months.
A group of flowers known as spring ephemerals begins the yearly show. Ephemerals are so named because they appear above ground only in late winter and early spring, then flower, fruit, and die back within a short two-month period. Spring wildflowers emerge from February through April, and are gone (dormant) by May or June. Spring ephemerals include flowers such as trillium (the park has 10 different species), lady slipper orchids, showy orchids, crested dwarf iris, fire pink, columbine, bleeding heart, phacelia, jack-in-the-pulpit, little brown jugs, and violets, to name just a few.
The display continues with summer wildflowers that include brilliant red cardinal flowers, pink turtleheads, Turk’s cap lily, small purple-fringed orchids, bee-balm, butterfly-weed, black-eyed susans, jewel weed, and many others. By late summer and through the fall, goldenrod, wide-leaved sunflowers, tall ironweed, mountain gentian, monk’s hood, coneflowers, and numerous varieties of asters begin to bloom. Purple umbels of sweet Joe-Pye-weed stretch towards the sky and can reach heights of ten feet.