Annual Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage
During the last weekend in April, when the variety of
spring wildflowers is near its peak, a special event draws large numbers
of nature enthusiasts to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This, the
annual Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage, features hiking trips, nature
walks, photographic tours, bird-watching, and illustrated talks.
Botanists from various colleges in the southern Appalachian region
assist the park naturalists in leading groups of visitors over park
trails, the accent being on getting acquainted with wildflowers. As many
as 200 species of plants have been observed in bloom during the 3 days
of the pilgrimage. This event serves as an introduction to the
naturalist program in the park, which begins May 1 and continues for 6
months. Information relating to the current Spring Wildflower
Pilgrimage may be obtained during March and April from the Chamber of
Commerce, Gatlinburg, Tenn.
The evergreen leaves of this catawba rhododendron
are wider and not as sharply pointed as the leaves of the rosebay or great
white rhododendron. Temperatures as low as 20° below zero have been
recorded in places where these shrubs grow. Courtesy, Tennessee Conservation
The birdsfoot violet has the largest flowers of all violets in the
park. Courtesy, H. Lou Gibson.
Three petals, three sepals, and three leaves =
trillium. This is the erect white species whose local name is "Stinking
Mountain-laurel is known as "ivy" by some
of the local residents. During most years it bears white or pink
flowers from middle May to middle June. Courtesy, Tennessee
Flowers of the galax appear in the middle of
late spring. The thick leathery leaves may become reddish and
purplish in late autmn and winter. Courtesy, Thompson
The showy orchis is one of the 29 species of
native orchids in the park. In woodlands, where it occurs, the
flowers appear in late April and early May. Courtesy, H. Lou
What some people regard as a single dogwood
flower is actually a bouquet in the center of four chalky-white bracts.
In the park, this common small tree is usually at its height of bloom
from middle to late April. Courtesy, Tennessee Conservation
Petals of the fringed phacelia, a member of
the waterleaf family, are usually white; but pale-pink, blue, and
lavender shades are not uncommon. Courtesy, H. Lou Gibson.
The flowers of yellowwood appear in May. This tree
is rare and local throughout its range.