• 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?

Visitors can often spot bears in trees at the edges of forests.

Approximately 1,500 black bears live in the park. This equals a population density of approximately two bears per square mile. Bears can be found throughout the park, but are easiest to spot in open areas such as Cades Cove and Cataloochee Valley. More...