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    Great Smoky Mountains

    National Park NC,TN

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Common Summer Wildflowers in the Smokies

Wood Sorrel Wildflower

Wood Sorrel

NPS Photo

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 just a few of the summer-blooming wildflowers and flowering shrubs commonly seen in the park during the summer months:

Wood Sorrel - Oxalis montana

Wood sorrel has small flowers with pink stripes on each petal and has shamrock-like leaves. It looks similar to the spring beauty wildflowers, but has a different blooming season. Wood sorrel is commonly found in the higher elevations of the park.

Nodding Lady Tresses Wildflower

Nodding Lady Tresses

NPS Photo

Nodding Lady's Tresses- Spiranthes cernua

Nodding lady's tresses are late summer wildflowers. They have very small, white, horizontal blossoms and their largest leaves are at the base of the plant. Nodding lady's tresses are frequently found in the higher elevations of the park.

Maryland Golden Aster Wildflower

Maryland Golden Aster

Photo courtesy of Leslie M. Weetman, PhD

Maryland Golden Aster- Chrysopsis mariana

Maryland golden aster is a tall, daisy like plant with yellow petals around a golden center. Maryland golden asters are frequently seen in the mid-low elevations of the park.

Three-Lobed Black Eyed Susan Wildflower

Three-Lobed Black Eyed Susan

Photo courtesy of Leslie M. Weetman, PhD

Three-Lobed Black Eyed Susan- Rudbeckoia triloba

Three- lobed black eyed susans have a hairy stem with leaves that are variable in size and shape. Around the base of each flower are bracts that are narrow, green and leafy. Each flower has outer petals that are yellow or orange around a small disk of dark purple flowers. Three-lobed black eyed susans are the only native black eyed susan in the Smokies and they are commonly seen throughout the park.
Jewelweed Wildflower

Pale Jewelweed

NPS Photo

Pale Jewelweed (Touch-Me-Nots) - Impatiens pallida

Pale jewelweed are pale yellow flowers with simple, round tooth leaves. It looks similar to the orange jewelweed except for the color. Pale jewelweed is commonly seen throughout the park.

Spotted Jewelweed Wildflower

Orange Jewelweed

NPS Photo

Orange Jewelweed (Spotted Touch-Me-Not) - Impatiens capensis

Orange jewelweed are orange flowers with brown spots. It has simple, round-tooth leaves. It looks similar to the pale jewelweed except for the color. Orange jewelweed is commonly seen in the mid-low elevations of the park.

Turk's Cap Lily

Turk's Cap Lily

Photo courtesy of Leslie M. Weetman, PhD

Turk's Cap Lily- Lilium superbum

Turk's cap lily have petals and sepals turned sharply back on themselves with green streaks appearing at the base of each floral segment. Turk's cap lily is commonly seen over a wide range of the park.
Butterfly-Weed Wildflower

Butterfly Weed

Photo courtesy of Leslie M. Weetman, PhD

Butterfly-Weed- Asclepias tuberosa

Butterfly-weed has clusters of deep orange blossoms covering the plant. Each individual flower has five drooping petals with a crown above. It is also sometimes called chigger-weed. Butterfly-weed can be seen in the mid to low elevations of the park.
Cardinal Flower

Cardinal Flower

Kent Cave Photo

Cardinal Flower- Lobelia cardinalis

Cardinal flower are a blossom of bright red flowers on short stalks. The flowers are arranged in a loose spike and have veiny, toothed leaves arranged alternatly along the stem. Cardinal flowers are frequently seen in the mid to low elevations of the park.

Pink Turtlehead Wildflower

Pink Turtlehead

NPS Photo

Pink Turtlehead- Chelone lyonii

Pink turtlehead have five petals that have fused together to create a two-lipped tube with yellow hairs on the lower three-petal lip. The leaves have obvious stems with rounded bases. Pink turtlehead is frequently seen over a wide range of the park.
New York Ironweed Wildflower

New York Ironweed

NPS Photo

New York Ironweed- Veronia noveboracensis

New York ironweed is a tall flower that has a dozen or more purple flower heads in a bunched cluster. At the base of each head are green-leafy brackets. New York ironweed is seen in the lower-elevations of the park.
Joe-Pye-Weed Wildflower


Photo courtesy of Leslie M. Weetman, PhD

Joe-Pye-Weed- Eupatorium purpureum

Joe-Pye-weed is a tall wildflower with leaves in whorls of 3 and 4. It has huge, rounded clusters of pink and purple flowers atop the stem.

Southern Harebell Wildflower

Southern Harebell

Photo courtesy of Leslie M. Weetman, PhD

Southern Harebell- Campanula divaricate

Southern harebells have a delicate, bell shaped flower that droop from horizontal branches. They range in color from almost white to blue and purple and have petals that curl backwards. Southern harebells are commonly seen throughout the park in mid to low elevations.

Flame Azalea

Flame Azalea

NPS Photo

Flame Azalea - Rhododendron calendulaceum

Flame azalea is a 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.

Purple Rhododendron Bloom

Purple Rhododendron

NPS Photo

Purple Rhododendron- Rhododendron catawbiense
White Rhododendron - Rhododendron maximum

Both purple and white rhododendron are summer flowering evergreen shrubs that bloom in June and July. They have thick, leathery, long leaves with bunches of flowers at the end of the branch. The purple rhododendron has a pink or purple flower, while the white rhododendron usually has narrower leaves with a white flower.


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?

Fontana Lake is formed by Fontana Dam.

At 480 feet, Fontana Dam, located on the southwestern boundary of the park, is the tallest concrete dam east of the Rocky Mountains. The dam impounds the Little Tennessee River forming Fontana Lake and produces hydroelectric power. More...