An Amazing Diversity
The wildflowers of the Smokies are amazing in their diversity. The Park is home to approximately 1,500 kinds of flowering plants according to the Great Smoky Mountains Natural History Association--including over 300 rare plants. The reason for the large number of species is attributable to several factors, including vast differences in altitude and temperature and lots of rain (averaging 90 inches per year), the impact of the ice age, and the preservation efforts persued by the National Park Service. In this feature, we present an alphabetical index to selected wildflowers, a "browse" button each page, a thumbnail image library, and suggested quiet walkways, and driving tours which offer great opportunities to view wildflowers.
Other natural wonders occur when Mountain Laurel blooms (white and pink flowers from early May through June); Flame Azalea (April and May in low elevations and late June and early July at higher elevations); and Rhododendron (Catawba reaches its peak in in June and Rosebay in June and July).
Where to Find the Wildflowers
The quiet walkways are opportunities to entice the visitor from their vehicles and view the wildflower show. And for those who just won't budge from their vehicles, auto touring areas offer great opportunities too.
In April each year a Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage is conducted for nature enthusiasts. Hikes, walks, drives, and lectures are available for participants who pay the $8 fee ($5 for students, kids under 12 are free).
NOTE: It is illegal to pick or dig wildflowers in Park. Poachers are prosecuted because they have been responsible for the decline of certain species over the years. It should be understood that most of these wildflowers don't survive in your home garden because the habitat conditions can't be duplicated.
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