• Approximately 1,500 black bears live in the national park.

    Great Smoky Mountains

    National Park NC,TN

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  • Spring Road Status

    During spring, park roads may close due to ice, especially at high elevation where wet roads can freeze as temperatures drop at night. For road status information call (865) 436-1200 ext. 631 or follow updates at http://twitter.com/SmokiesRoadsNPS. More »

Common Spring Wildflowers in the Smokies

Spring Beauty Wildflower

Spring Beauty

Photo courtesy of Leslie M. Weetman, PhD

There are over 1,500 kinds of flowering plants that grow in Great Smoky Mountains, more than in any other American national park. These are some of the wildflowers and flowering shrubs commonly seen in the park during the spring months:


Spring Beauty - Claytonia virginica

Spring beauty is an early spring wildflower. The blossom has 5 pink-striped petals that are white or a pale pink. The plant is only 3 to 4 inches tall, and has a pair of oval, dark green leaves halfway up the stem. Spring beauty is commonly seen over a wide range of the park.
 
Bloodroot Wildflower

Bloodroot

NPS Photo

Bloodroot - Sanguianaria canadensis

Bloodroot is an early spring wildflower. It has many narrow white petals surround a center of gold stamens. It also has veiny and deep-lobed leaves. The roots contain an orange-red sap, which gives the flower its common name. Bloodroot if frequently seen in the low elevations of the park.

Bloodroot

 
Sharp-Lobed Hepatica Wildflower

Sharp-Lobed Hepatica

Photo courtesy of Leslie M. Weetman, PhD

Sharp-Lobed Hepatica - Hepatica nobilis

Sharp-lobed hepatica is an early spring wildflower. It has a single flower on a hairy stalk, with a cluster dark, pointed lobed leaves. Sharp-lobed hepatica is frequently seen in the mid to low elevations. Also found in the park is round-lobed hepatica (Hepatica americana) which has rounded leaf tips instead of pointed tip.

 
Smooth Solomon's Seal

Smooth Solomon's Seal

Photo courtesy of Leslie M. Weetman, PhD

Smooth Solomon's Seal- Polygonatum biflorum

Smooth solomon's seal flowers hang down below the hairless stem and area easily hidden by the leaves. Smooth solomon's seal is commonly seen in the mid to low elevations.

 
False Solomon's Seal Wildflower

False Solomon's Seal

NPS Photo

False Solomon's Seal- Maianthemum racemosum

False solomon's seal is a late spring wildflower. The white flowers and fruit are clustered at the end of the plant. False solomon's seal is frequently seen over a wide range of the park.

 
Foamflower Wildflower

Foamflower

Photo courtesy of Leslie M. Weetman, PhD

Foamflower- Tiarella cordifolia

Foamflower is easily recognized by the delicate spike of white flowers on a leafless stem. The leaves resemble maple leaves on long, hairy stems. Foamflower is commonly seen over a wide range of the park.

 
Galax

Galax

NPS Photo

Galax- Galax sp.

Galax is a tall pillar of tiny white flowers surrounded by evergreen leaves. The leaves turn copper-red in the winter. Galax is only found in the southern Appalachians and is commonly found over a wide range of the park.

 
Bishop's Cap Wildflower

Bishop's Cap

Photo courtesy of Leslie M. Weetman, PhD

Bishop's Cap- Mitella diphylla

Bishop's cap has very small white flowers that resemble a tiny-fringed bell under a magnifying lens on the upper half of the stem. It has a single pair of opposite leaves halfway up the stalk and leaves at the base of the plant that resemble maple leaves. Bishop's cap is frequently seen in the mid to low elevations of the park.

 
White Trillium Wildflower

White Trilliums

John Heidecker Photo

White Trillium - Trillium graniflorum

White trillium has a large bell-shaped flower, with three white leaves around a yellow center. The white leaves turn pink with age. White trillium is commonly seen in the mid to low elevations of the park.
 
Catesby's Trillium Wildflower

Catesby's Trillium

Photo courtesy of Leslie M. Weetman, PhD

Catesby's Trillium - Trillium catesbaei

Catesby's trillium is an early spring wildflower that is only found in the Southern Appalachians. The flower hangs down from the stalk and has three white leaves that turn pink with age. Catesby's trillium is frequently seen in the mid to low elevations of the park.

 
Painted Trillium Wildflower

Painted Trillium

Kent Cave Photo

Painted Trillium - Trillium undulatum

Painted trillium has three white leaves around a yellow center. Each of the leaves looks to have a maroon "v" painted on it. Painted trillium is occasionally seen in the higher elevations of the park.

 
Vasey's Trillium Wildflower

Vasey's Trillium

Photo courtesy of Leslie M. Weetman, PhD

Vasey's Trillium - Trillium vaseyi

Vasey's trillium is the latest blooming trillium, and has a red flower with three leaves, three sepals and three petals. Vasey's trillium is frequently seen in mid to low elevations.

 
Yellow Trillium Wildflower

Yellow Trillium

Photo courtesy of Leslie M. Weetman, PhD

Yellow Trillium- Trillium luteum

Yellow trillium has a single yellow flower with narrow and erect petals. It has three leaves, three petals, and three sepals. It is frequently seen in the lower elevations of the park.

 
Halberd-Leaved Violet Wildflower

Halberd-Leaved Violet

Kent Cave Photo

Halberd-Leaved Violets - Viola hasata

Halberd-leaved violet is an early spring wildflower. It is easily identified by its leaves that are shaped like arrowheads. It has small yellow flowers clustered near the top of the stem. Halberd-leaved violets are commonly seen in the mid to low elevations of the park.

 
Trout Lilly Wildflower

Trout-Lilly

Photo courtesy of Leslie M. Weetman, PhD

Trout-Lily - Erythronium umbilicatum

The Cherokee Indians believed that when the trout lily bloomed it was time to fish. The leaves look like a brook trout with the spots or blotches on them. The trout-lily is 6 to 8 inches tall, and is a yellow, solitary drooping flower. Trout-lily is commonly seen throughout the park.

 
Robin's Plantain Wildflower

Robin's Plantain

Photo courtesy of Leslie M. Weetman, PhD

Robin's Plantain - Erigeron pulchellus

Robin's plantain is a daisy-like flower with very narrow light outer petals and small yellow inner petals on a small disk. Robin's plantain are frequently seen in the low elevations of the park.

 
Wild Strawberry Wildflower

Wild Strawberry

Photo courtesy of Leslie M. Weetman, PhD

Wild Strawberry - Fragaria virginiana

Wild strawberries are a spring wildflower, with fruit appearing later in the summer. This is a low growing plant with very small white flowers. Wild strawberries are frequently seen throughout the park, and the strawberry fruit is one of the favorite summer foods for black bears.

 
Fire Pink wildflower

Fire Pink

John Heidecker Photo

Fire Pink- Silene virginica

Fire pink is a spring wildflower. The name "pink" does not refer to the color of the flower, but that each of the five petals are pinked or notched at the tip. It is a red flower with five petals that is on a slender stem with a pair of slender, opposite leaves. Fire pink is commonly seen throughout the park.

 
Columbine- Wildflower

Columbines

John Heidecker Photo

Columbine - Aquilegia canadensis

Columbines have delicate red and yellow flowers that hang down from a slender stalk. Columbines are frequently seen in the mid to low elevations of the park.

 
Crested Dwarf Iris Wildflower

Crested Dwarf Iris

John Heidecker Photo

Crested Dwarf Iris - Iris cristata

Crested dwarf iris has three blue-purple above three unique petal-like sepals. On each sepal is a yellow crest. Crested dwarf iris is commonly seen in the mid to low elevations of the park.
 
Wild Geranium Wildflower

Wild Geranium

Photo courtesy of Leslie M. Weetman, PhD

Wild Geranium - Geranium maculatum

Wild geranium has 5 petals on each blossom that stand 12 to 18 inches and are bright pink and purple. Wild geranium is commonly found in the mid to low elevations of the park.

 
White Fringed Phacelia Wildflower

White Fringed Phacelia

Photo courtesy of Leslie M. Weetman, PhD

White Fringed Phacelia- Phacelia fimbriata

White fringed phacelia is often found massing over large areas that look like patches snow. Each individual flower has five white petals that resemble a cup-shaped wildflower. The petals turn purple with age. White fringed phacelia is commonly seen in the mid to high elevations of the park.

 
Purple Phacelia Wildflower

Purple Phacelia

John Heidecker Photo

Purple Phacelia- Phacelia bipinnatifida

Purple phacelia is the tallest phacelia in the park and has purple-blue flowers on hairy stems. It has leaves that are divided into segments and then lobed. Purple phacelia is occasionally seen in the mid to low elevations of the park.

 
Showy Orchis Wildflower

Showy Orchis

John Heidecker Photo

Showy Orchis- Gelaris spectabilis

Showy orchis are usually have two long and egg-shaped basal leaves with the flowering stalk itself having no leaves. Each flower has a pink or lilac hood with a white lip. Showy orchis are commonly seen in the mid to low elevations of the park.

 
Dutchman Britches Wildflower

Dutchman Britches

Photo courtesy of Leslie M. Weetman, PhD

Dutchman's Britches - Dicentra cucullaria

Dutchman's britches look like a pair of pantaloons hanging on the line to dry. It is a white, nodding flower on a leafless stalk that hangs over dissected leaves. It is often confused with squirrel corn (Dicentra canadensis) which blooms at the same time in the same habitat. Dutchman's britches are commonly seen over a wide range of the park.
 
Squirrel Corn Wildflower

Squirrel Corn

Photo courtesy of Leslie M. Weetman, PhD

Squirrel corn- Dicentra canadensis

Squirrel corn has white, nodding flowers, small yellow tubers and compound leaves. It is often confused with dutchman's britches (Dicentra cucullaria), which blooms at the same time in the same habitat. Squirrel corn is frequently seen over a wide range of the park.

 
Bleeding Heart Wildflower

Bleeding Heart

Photo courtesy of Leslie M. Weetman, PhD

Bleeding Heart- Dicentra eximia

Bleeding heart is the pink version of the squirrel corn (Dicentra canadensis) It has four pink petals that look heart-shaped over a cluster of delicately cut basal leaves. It is occasionally seen in the mid to low elevations.
 
Blue Phlox Wildflower

Blue Phlox

Photo courtesy of Leslie M. Weetman, PhD

Blue Phlox- Phlox divaricate

Blue phlox is a blue or purple flower that has five notched petals that radiate from a very narrow tube. It is occasionally seen in the mid to low elevations of the park.

 
Thyme-Leaves-Bluets Wildflower

Thyme- Leaved Bluets

Photo Courtesy of Leslie M. Weetman, PhD

Thyme-Leaved Bluets- Houstonia serpyllifolia

Thyme- leaved bluets are a late spring wildflower. They are a tiny flower with four blue petals surrounding a central yellow spot. Often, the flowers are seen in a group. Thyme- leaved bluets are commonly seen throughout the park.

 
Jack-in-the-Pulpit Wildflower

Jack-in-the-Pulpit Wildflower

John Heidecker Photo

Jack-in-the-Pulpit - Arisaema triphyllum

Jack-in-the-Pulpit is a unique early spring wildflower. It has a "Jack" standing erect at his pulpit. At the base of "jack" is a cluster of tiny flowers and a piece of the flower is green or dark purple forms the pulpit by curving over to provide a canopy. Jack-in-the-Pulpit is commonly seen throughout the park.

 
Wild Ginger Wildflower

Wild Ginger

John Heidecker Photo

Wild Ginger- Asarum canadense

Wild ginger has heart shaped leaves that hide a small, three lobed brown flower. The plant's odor attracts female fungus gnats into the blossom to lay their eggs, and pollen is exchanged among plants as the gnat goes between plants. Wild ginger is commonly seen in the mid to low elevations of the park.

 
Squawroot

Squawroot

Photo courtesy of Leslie M. Weetman, PhD

Squawroot- Conopholis americana

Sqauwroot resembles an ear of corn coming out of the leaf-litter. It is a brown flower because there is no chlorophyll in it. Squawroot is actually a parasite, growing on oak roots. Black bears are known to feed on squawroot. It is frequently seen in the lower elevations of the park.

 
 
Flame Azalea

Flame Azalea

Photo courtesy of Leslie M. Weetman, PhD

Flame Azalea - Rhododendron calendulaceum

Flame azalea is a spring flowering deciduous shrub that blooms at low elevations in April and at high elevations in June and July. The leaves and flowers are concentrated at the end of the branch, and the flowers are red and yellow. Flame azalea is commonly seen throughout the park.
 
wildflowers

Recommended Reading

Wildflowers of the Smokies

Photos of wildflowers grouped by color will aid in identifying species found in the park. Includes information on suggested walks, hikes, and drives in the park, as well as wildflower conservation.

Did You Know?

Flame azalea can be found growing on heath balds in the park.

The park’s high elevation heath balds are treeless expanses where dense thickets of shrubs such as mountain laurel, rhododendron, and sand myrtle grow. Known as “laurel slicks” and “hells” by early settlers, heath balds were most likely created by forest fires long ago. More...