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

    Great Smoky Mountains

    National Park NC,TN

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  • Trail Advisory

    Several trails in the park are temporarily closed. Please check the "Backcountry Facilities" section of the Temporary Road and Facilities Closures page for further details. More »

Threats to Wildflowers

Wildflowers in the Smokies face a number of human-instigated threats, including air pollution, off-trail hiking, and poaching.

Long term research conducted in the park shows that ground level ozone pollution is injuring at least 30 species of native plants. Ground level ozone, sometimes called "smog," is created when nitrogen oxides from automobiles and factories mix with sunlight and natural hydrocarbons. Black-eyed susan, tall milkweed, and coneflower are among the most vulnerable wildflowers.

Plant poaching appears to be on the rise in the Smokies. Some commercial poachers remove hundreds of plants each trip and make several trips annually. In recent years groups of poachers have been apprehended with well over 1,000 American ginseng roots. Aside from ginseng, the most popular targets are orchids and trilliums. Overzealous gardeners take a serious toll by removing showy wildflowers for transplanting back home and careless hikers trample delicate wildflowers when they leave established trails.

If you observe people digging plants in the park, report the activity to the nearest ranger station or call (865) 436-1230.

Did You Know?

Great Horned Owls can be heard most often in January and February

More than 240 species of birds have been found in the park. Sixty species are year-round residents. Nearly 120 species breed in the park, including 52 species from the neo-tropics. Many other species use the park as an important stopover and foraging area during their semiannual migration. More...