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5 Common Smoky Mountain Wildflowers to Spot This Spring

trillium and other smoky mountain wildflowers
March 28, 2024

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is home to more than 1,500 kinds of flowering plants, which is more than any other national park in the United States. These flowers come in a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes. Though different plants bloom at different times of the year, one of the most popular times to spot wildflowers is spring. Here’s a list of some common Smoky Mountain wildflowers to look for this season.

1. Blue Phlox

Blue phlox is one of the common Smoky Mountain wildflowers that can be spotted in spring. This plant tends to bloom in April and May and is one of several species of phlox that can be found in the national park. The flowers range from a light blue to a deep purple color and have five notched petals surrounding a narrow tube. Blue phlox tends to grow in clusters along roads and hiking trails in the Great Smoky Mountains.

2. Spring Beauty

cluster of spring beauty wildflowers

One of the early blooming Smoky Mountain wildflowers is the spring beauty. This plant tends to bloom in March to early April. Spring beauty grows over a wide range of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, often in large groups on the forest floor. This plant is only three to four inches tall and has a pair of dark green, oval leaves halfway up the stem. Spring beauty is distinguishable by its five pink-striped petals that can be white or pale pink.

3. Jack-in-the-Pulpit

Another one of the early Smoky Mountain wildflowers is the Jack-in-the-pulpit. This flower can bloom from March through May. It’s commonly found throughout the national park, but it can be easy to miss since it blends in well with the forest floor. This plant has a tall, fleshy, brown spike in the center that is partially or fully enclosed by a horn-shaped petal that creates a canopy over it. The petal is typically light green with dark purple stripes.

4. Dwarf Crested Iris

cluster of dwarf crested iris

If you’re looking for colorful Smoky Mountain wildflowers, keep an eye out for the dwarf crested iris. This plant is widely distributed at the lower elevations of the Great Smoky Mountains and is often seen in the Elkmont area of the national park. You may see dwarf crested iris along the roadsides in April and May as well as along some hiking trails. This flower has three blue-purple petals above three petal-like sepals with yellow crests. This plant only grows to about 4 inches tall, but it’s typically found in large colonies that make it hard to miss.

5. Trillium

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is home to ten different species of trillium, the most well-known of which are white trillium, yellow trillium, and painted trillium. White trillium is the most abundant, with yellow trillium a close second. These Smoky Mountain wildflowers have three petals surrounding the center and can be found along many hiking trails in spring starting around April. Trillium ranges in color from white to yellow to pink and more, depending on the species.

What to Know Before Exploring Smoky Mountain Hiking Trails

One of the best ways to see these Smoky Mountain wildflowers is hiking. There are a number of great hiking trails that offer glimpses of these colorful beauties, and these trails range in both difficulty and length. Before you embark on a Smoky Mountain hike this spring, check out these things to know before you go hiking in the Smokies so you can be prepared for a safe and fun adventure!

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