(2010 - 2011) Wildflowers
There are hundreds upon hundreds of diverse wildflowers that bloom throughout the park most of the year, with the earliest breaking winter's chill in March and the last lingering into November until the freeze returns. Week to week there is constant turnover among the park's flora as vibrant colors explode and fade, adding to the Smokies amazing beauty and biodiversity. They can be found everywhere in the park, from high in the trees, at eye level, or covering the forest floor. They all vary in size, abundance, and longevity.
One famous spring wildflower that is often associated with the Smokies is the Trillium. This amazing flower varies in color, size, habitat, and abundance, gracing roadsides and mountain slopes with its presence throughout the month of April and into May. There are several lower elevation trails with vast populations of this wildflower.
The azalea bushes that bloom as early as April at lower elevations and last into July higher up provide one of the more vivid floral displays in the park. Gregory Bald and Andrews Bald are two of the most impressive locations adorned with Flame Azalea in terms of their abundance and variances in color. I would highly recommend hikes to these places in late June.
One of the park's most common kinds of plants would be the Rhododendron. The Rosebay Rhododendron fills shaded ravines and stream sides throughout the park, possessing bloom clusters of white, and sometimes pink, appearing in June and July. The Catawba Rhododendron is more common at higher elevations, most notably among heath balds, showing purple bloom clusters throughout the month of June. Popular displays appear along Newfound Gap Road, Andrews Bald, and Alum Cave Trail to Mt. LeConte.
Another one of the more easily recognizable flowering plant species in the Smokies, the dogwood features blooms of pink and white throughout the month of April and into May. They can be found at the lower elevations and make for some very picturesque streamside photo-ops.
The aforementioned species are just some of my favorites, more commonly found in the park than most, but the list of diverse wildflowers is very extensive. I simply can't find or detail them all, but as they appear throughout my hikes, I will feature as many different wildflowers as possible.