Elevation and north-south orientation can make a big difference in weather conditions and what is blooming. The Parkway's elevation ranges from 649 feet at Virginia's James River to 6,047 feet south of Mount Pisgah in North Carolina.
Catawba Rhododendron (Rhododendron catawbiense)
A medium shrub with pink to purple flowers growing above 3000 feet on exposed ridges. June-Early July. Catawba rhododendron is the purple variety that blooms from early June around the Peaks of Otter in Virginia to the third week of June at Craggy Gardens in North Carolina. Any time between these dates there are spots of the variety in bloom.
Rosebay Rhododendron (Rhododendron maximum)
Also called White Rhododendron. A large shrub with white to pink flowers, over a wide range of elevations. June-July.
Flame Azalea (Rhododendron calendulaceum) A medium shrub with bright orange to red flowers. Azaleas are in the rhododendron family. June-July
Wild Hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens) A medium shrub with large clusters of white flowers. May-August
Mountain Laurel (Kalmia latifolia) A medium shrub with pink flowers. June-July
Pinxter Flower (Rhododendron nudiflorum) A medium shrub with pink honeysuckle-like flowers, common at lower elevations. April-May
For more images check out the photo gallery.
April into May is the best time for spring wildflowers. May apple, trillium, bloodroot, Jack-in-the-pulpit, lady slippers, bleeding heart, and firepink make their appearance in spring. Elevation affects bloom time, with cooler temperatures delaying bloom season by several weeks at higher elevations.
Fire Pink (Silene virginica) This 6-20 inch plant has bright red flowers up to 1-1/2 inches wide. April-June
Goat's Beard (Aruncus dioicus) 3-5 feet tall with flower plumes 3-5 inches wide and 6-10 inches long. May-June
Bluets (Houstonia sp.) 3-6 inches tall with many small 4-petal flowers, light to dark blue. Bluets sometimes grow in large beds. May-August
Trillium (Trillium grandiflorum) The largest of several trilliums found along the parkway, grows to about 15 inches.
Trilliums have 3 leaves and a single 3-petal flower. April-May
Birdfoot Violet (Viola pedata) 4-10 inches tall, bluish-purple flower. March-June
.Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) about 2 feet tall, nodding red and yellow flower. May-July
Bee Balm (Monarda didyma)Also called Oswego Tea,2-5 feet tall with bright red 2-inch flowers. Wild Bergamot is similar, but is pink.July-August
Sun Drops (Oenothera fruticosa) 1-2 feet tall, yellow 4-petal flower. June-July
Evening Primrose (Oenothera biennis) 3-5 feet tall, yellow 4-petal flower. June-July
Phlox (Phlox sp.) 2-6 feet tall, magenta-pink flowers. July-October
Touch-me-not (Impatiens species) 3-6 feet tall, nodding yellow or orange flower. July-August
Tall Bellflower (Campanula americana) 2-6 feet tall, blue, 5-petal flower. July-August
White Snakeroot (Eupatorium rugosum) 3-5 feet tall, bright white flower heads. July-Sept
Dense Blazing Star (Liatris spicata) 2-4 feet tall, rose-purple flowered spike. August-Sept
Goldenrod (Solidago sp.) about 3 feet tall, golden-yellow spikes or plumes. August-Sept
Ox Eye Daisy (Chrysanthemum leucanthemum)1-3 feet tall, white petals, yellow center.
Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta) 3-6 feet tall, yellow petals, black center.
Tall Coneflower (Rudbeckia laciniata) 2-3 feet tall, drooping yellow petals, green center.
Coreopsis (Coreopsis major) 2-3 feet tall, golden-yellow petals, green center.
Jerusalem Artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus) 5-10 feet tall, yellow petals, yellow center.
Aster (Aster sp.) 2-5 feet tall with many small flowers; blue, purple, or white petals.
Turks-Cap Lily (Lilium superbum) 6 to 10 feet tall with flowers 2-4 inches wide with a green star at center. The Carolina Lily (L. michauxii) is similar but lacks the green star and bares fewer flowers. July-August.
Last updated: May 1, 2018