Category Archives: Wildflowers

Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: Southern Mountain Cranberry

Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: Southern Mountain Cranberry

Southern Mountain Cranberry (Vaccinium erythrocarpum)
Southern Mountain Cranberry (Vaccinium erythrocarpum) © William Britten use with permission only

Southern Mountain Cranberry (Vaccinium erythrocarpum) is a member of the Heath family … a blueberry bush with red berries!  Another common name is Bearberry. It’s a low bush, about 3-4 feet tall. The wildflowers photos here were taken along the Appalachian Trail just west of Clingmans Dome, on a dry, rocky ridge-top. Bloom time for this bush is June.

If you’re in the Smoky Mtns for a vacation, please come on out to the historic Arts and Crafts Trail on Glades Rd in Gatlinburg TN. The William Britten Gallery has my complete display of Smoky Mtns photos. There may be a Smokies memory waiting for you to take home!

Southern Mountain Cranberry (Vaccinium erythrocarpum)
Southern Mountain Cranberry (Vaccinium erythrocarpum) © William Britten use with permission only
Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: St. Johnswort

Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: St. Johnswort

Mountain St. Johns Wort
Mountain St. Johns Wort © William Britten use with permission only

Hypericum is another family of wildflowers with lots of species. Over 25 can be identified in Tennessee and many of these can be found in the Smoky Mountains, giving plenty of opportunities for misidentification.  Therefore, the two species in the photos here are my best effort to identify!

St. Johns Wort is famous as an herbal treatment for mild depression. Some studies have shown the plant extract to have similar results to standard antidepressants, with half the side-effects.

Mountain St. Johns Wort (Hypericum gravolens), in the photo above and at the bottom of the page, blooms July-September in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The plant enjoys moist seeps and grassy areas. You might see it along the Cades Cove Loop Road. The images on this page were taken along Porters Creek Trail in the Greenbrier section of the Smokies.

Spotted St. Johns Wort (Hypericum punctatum) in the photo below is a smaller variety, with distinctive black dots on the leaves, stem and the underside of the blossom. These are different from the translucent dots found on other species in the Hypericum family. The leaves are also more blunt or rounded at the ends.

Spotted St. Johns Wort (Hypericum punctatum)
Spotted St. Johns Wort (Hypericum punctatum) © William Britten use with permission only

If you are in the area on vacation, please stop in and visit me to see the complete display of Smoky Mountains Photography at the William Britten Gallery in Gatlinburg, TN. There may be a special Smokies photo memory for you to take home.

And if you are a wildflower enthusiast, please join our Smoky Mountains Wildflowers Community on Facebook. We exchange photo identifications, bloom locations, and info on these delicate and beautiful plants.

Smoky Mountains Wildflowers
Smoky Mountains Wildflowers © William Britten use with permission only
Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: Wood Sorrel

Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: Wood Sorrel

Mountain Wood Sorrel (Oxalis montana)
Mountain Wood Sorrel (Oxalis montana) © William Britten use with permission only

There are several species of Wood Sorrel wildflowers found in the Smoky Mountains. All have the characteristic shamrock-like leaves and high concentration of oxalic acid that gives them the common name Sour Grass.

The common Mountain Wood Sorrel (Oxalis montana) pictured above is usually found at higher elevations, such as the acidic Spruce-Fir forests around Clingmans Dome. The little white blossoms with pink stripes are similar to Spring Beauty, but the bloom time in June and July happens long after the Spring Beauties have gone.

The Price’s Wood Sorrel (Oxalis priceae) in the photo below is a rare find in the Smokies. As much as the Mountain Wood Sorrel favors acidic conditions, Price’s will thrive only in the limestone soils found in the Northwest corner of the National Park. The plant below was found along Ace Gap Trail.

During your trip to the Smokies, please consider a stop at the William Britten Gallery on Glades Rd. in Gatlinburg.  The full display of my Smoky Mountains photos may contain a special memory of the mountains for you to take home.

Also, if you are a wildflowers enthusiast, please join my Smoky Mountains Wildflowers Community on Facebook. We trade photos and tips on bloom locations.

Price's Wood Sorrel (Oxalis priceae)
Price's Wood Sorrel (Oxalis priceae) © William Britten use with permission only
Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: Black Cohosh

Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: Black Cohosh

Black Cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa)
Black Cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa) © William Britten use with permission only

Black Cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa) is a fairly common Smoky Mtns wildflower found in rich woods and along roadsides at low to mid-elevations. The photos on this page were taken along Newfound Gap Rd below the Chimneys Picnic Area. All of the plants in the Cimicifuga family are known as Bugbane, from their offensive odor and insect-repellent properties. A similar species, American Bugbane, may also be seen in the Smokies. Other common names are black bugbane, black snakeroot and fairy candle.

Black Cohosh has a long history of medicinal uses. Native Americans used black cohosh to treat gynecological disorders, sore throats, kidney problems, and depression. Currently, tablets made from the wildflower are marketed as dietary supplement for treatment of premenstrual tension, menopause and other gynecological problems.

I hope you’ll find time during your Smoky Mtns vacation for a stop at the William Britten Gallery in Gatlinburg.  The full display of my Smoky Mountains images may contain a special memory of the mountains for you to take home.

Also, if you are a wildflower enthusiast, please join my Smoky Mtns Wildflowers Community on Facebook. We trade photos and tips on bloom locations.

Black Cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa)
Black Cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa) © William Britten use with permission only

 

Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: Purple Fringed Orchid

Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: Purple Fringed Orchid

Purple-Fringed Orchid (Platanthera psycodes)
Purple-Fringed Orchid (Platanthera psycodes) © William Britten use with permission only

Purple-Fringed Orchid (Platanthera psycodes) is a stunning Smoky Mtns wildflower that favors the higher elevations. This is actually the Lesser Purple-Fringed Orchid, which grows 12 to 20 inches tall. The Greater version grows in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina and grows to nearly 5 feet tall!

Platanthera psycodes is a rare wildflower in the Smokies, but in June and July you will often spot it around Clingmans Dome, where the photos on this page were taken.

Smoky Mtns wildflowers
Smoky Mtns wildflowers © William Britten use with permission only

The William Britten Gallery along the historic Arts and Crafts Trail on Glades Rd in Gatlinburg, TN features my complete display of Smoky Mountains photos. Please stop in for a visit and see if there may be a Smokies memory there for you to take home!

Also, if you are a wildflower enthusiast, please join my Smoky Mtns Wildflowers Community on Facebook. We trade photos and tips on bloom locations.

Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: Rhododendron

Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: Rhododendron

Rosebay Rhododendron
Rosebay Rhododendron © William Britten use with permission only

Mid-June to July is the bloom time for the wild Smoky Mountains Rhododendrons. There are primarily two types to look for.  The White, or Rosebay, variety is most often seen along the creeks at all elevations. The Purple, or Catawba, variety is more often seen at high elevations along hillside trails. They are both beautiful shrubs and among the most eagerly awaited wildflowers blooms in the Smokies.

Rhododendron along the Roaring Fork
Rhododendron along the Roaring Fork © William Britten use with permission only

The tallest Purple Rhododendron in the nation grows in the Smoky Mountains at a height of 25 feet!

Catawba Rhododendron
Catawba Rhododendron © William Britten use with permission only

The leaves of Rhododendrons are similar to Mountain Laurel, but the buds and blooms are different. Below shows the pineapple-shaped bud of a Rhododendron.

If time allows during your Smoky Mountains vacation, please stop in at the William Britten Gallery on Glades Rd in Gatlinburg where my complete display of photos may offer you a special Smokies memory to take home!

And if you are a wildflower enthusiast, please join my Smoky Mountains Wildflowers Community page on Facebook.  We share photos and trade information on flower locations.

Rosebay Rhododendron Bud
Rosebay Rhododendron Bud © William Britten use with permission only
Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: Spiderwort

Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: Spiderwort

Mountain Spiderwort (Tradescantia subaspera)
Mountain Spiderwort (Tradescantia subaspera) © William Britten use with permission only

There are many varieties of Spiderworts and Dayflowers, including those cultivated in flower gardens. Mountain Spiderwort (Tradescantia subaspera) is a Smoky Mountains wildflower that can be found up to mid-elevations. The photos on this page were taken in late May along Ace Gap Trail in the northwestern corner of the Smokies.

Spiderworts are ephemeral, blooming in the morning, and if pollinated the blossom quickly fades. Another common name is Zig-zag plant, due to the way the leaves are attached to the stems.

Wildflower Mountain Spiderwort (Tradescantia subaspera)
Wildflower Mountain Spiderwort (Tradescantia subaspera) © William Britten use with permission only

The William Britten Gallery on Glades Rd in Gatlinburg, TN features my complete display of Smoky Mountains photos. There may be a Smokies memory there for you to take home!

Also, if you are a wildflower enthusiast, please join my Smoky Mountains Wildflowers Community on Facebook. We trade photos and tips on bloom locations.

Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: Rosy Twisted Stalk

Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: Rosy Twisted Stalk

Rosy Twisted Stalk (Streptopus roseus)
Rosy Twisted Stalk (Streptopus roseus) © William Britten use with permission only

Rosy Twisted Stalk (Streptopus roseus) is a member of the Lily family, and a small Smoky Mtns wildflower that blooms in May.  It’s rare in the Smokies, but take a walk along the Appalachian Trail going west between Newfound Gap and Indian gap, and you will see this plant within a half-mile. The delicate tiny bell-shaped blooms hide below the overhanging leaves on a “twisted” stalk about 24 inches long. The blooms will ripen into red berries later in the summer.  Another common name is Scootberry, because you would be scooting off to the outhouse after eating the berries.

The William Britten Gallery along the historic Arts and Crafts Trail on Glades Rd in Gatlinburg, TN features my complete display of Smoky Mountains photos. Please stop in for a visit and see if there may be a Smokies memory there for you to take home!

Also, if you are a wildflower enthusiast, please join my Smoky Mtns Wildflowers Community on Facebook. We trade photos and tips on bloom locations.

Smoky Mtns Wildflower
Smoky Mtns Wildflower © William Britten use with permission only
Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: Blue Phlox

Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: Blue Phlox

Blue Phlox (Phlox divaricata)
Blue Phlox (Phlox divaricata) © William Britten use with permission only

Wild Blue Phlox (Phlox divaricata) is an April-blooming Smoky Mtns wildflower, with the flowers ranging in color from the light blue in the photo above to deep purple. Another common name is Woodland Phlox. It is one of several varieties of phlox found in the Smokies.

Perhaps the most impressive display of this woodland beauty can be found in the White Oak Sinks area of the Smokies, off Schoolhouse Gap Trail. There you will find acres of blue blooms covering the ground from one hillside, across the valley floor, and up the other hillside. An amazing display that the photo below can only hint at!

Smoky Mtns wildflower carpet in White Oak Sinks
Smoky Mtns wildflower carpet in White Oak Sinks © William Britten use with permission only

After your wildflower walks please stop in at the William Britten Gallery on Glades Rd in Gatlinburg where my complete display of Smoky Mtns photos may offer you a special Smokies memory to take home!

And if you are a wildflower enthusiast, please join my Smoky Mountains Wildflowers Community page on Facebook.  We share photos and trade information on flower locations.

A sea of Blue Phlox behind a Yellow Trillium
A sea of Blue Phlox behind a Yellow Trillium © William Britten use with permission only
Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: Fairy Wand

Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: Fairy Wand

Fairy Wand (Chamaelirium luteum)
Fairy Wand (Chamaelirium luteum) © William Britten use with permission only

Fairy Wand (Chamaelirium luteum) is another member of the Lily family, and is a fairly uncommon Smoky Mountains wildflower. It is unusual in that the male and female flowers grow on separate plants. The male flower is longer and whiter, with the female tending towards greenish-white. Also called Devil’s Bit. The photos on this page were taken along Schoolhouse Gap Trail.

The William Britten Gallery on Glades Rd in Gatlinburg, TN features my complete display of Smoky Mtns photos. There may be a Smokies memory there for you to take home!

Also, if you are a wildflower enthusiast, please join my Smoky Mountains Wildflowers Community on Facebook. We trade photos and tips on bloom locations.

Fairy Wand (Chamaelirium luteum)
Fairy Wand (Chamaelirium luteum) © William Britten use with permission only
Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: False Solomon’s Seal

Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: False Solomon’s Seal

False Solomons Seal (Smilacina racemosa)
False Solomons Seal (Smilacina racemosa) © William Britten use with permission only

False Solomons Seal (Smilacina racemosa) has leaves that are very similar to true Solomons Seal, but the flowers are very different and make identification easy. This is a very common Smoky Mtns wildflower and can be found on almost any hike up to the mid-elevations from late April to May. The photos on this page were taken along the Chestnut Top Trail and Kanati Fork Trail.

This plant is a member of the Lily family. Other common names include Solomon’s Plume and Solomon’s Zigzag.

False Solomons Seal (Smilacina racemosa)
False Solomons Seal (Smilacina racemosa) © William Britten use with permission only

The photo below was an unusual variation of the leaf coloring that I found along the Kanati Fork Trail. This was the only plant with these features among hundreds growing along that trail.

When you take a break from the wildflower hikes, please stop in at the William Britten Gallery along Glades Rd in Gatlinburg. The complete display of Smoky Mtns photos is on display. And if you are a wildflower enthusiast, consider joining my Smoky Mtns Wildflower page on Facebook. We share photos and tips on where and when to find blooms.

Leaf mutation
Leaf mutation © William Britten use with permission only
Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: Yellow Mandarin

Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: Yellow Mandarin

Yellow Mandarin (Disporum lanuginosum)
Yellow Mandarin (Disporum lanuginosum) © William Britten use with permission only

Yellow Mandarin (Disporum lanuginosum) is a member of the Lily family. This Smoky Mtns wildflower blooms in late April or early May, growing one to two feet tall up to the mid-elevations. Typically the bloom is a pair of bell-shaped yellow-green flowers dangling beneath the leaves, giving it the other common name, Fairy Bells.  One of the photos on this page was taken along the Kanati Fork Trail, and the other on Porters Creek Trail, way up near Fern Branch Falls.

There is another flower from this family in the Smokies, Spotted Mandarin, which has creamy white blossoms with speckles, and is rare.

When the wildflower hunt is over or when rain holds you back from a hike, please stop in at the William Britten Gallery on Glades Rd in Gatlinburg.  The complete display of Smoky Mtns photos might contain a special memory to take home!

Also, please consider joining my Smoky Mtns Wildflower Community on Facebook.  We share photos and exchange identification tips and trail locations.

Yellow Mandarin (Disporum lanuginosum)
Yellow Mandarin (Disporum lanuginosum) © William Britten use with permission only
Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: Indian Pink

Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: Indian Pink

Indian Pink (Spigelia marilandica)
Indian Pink (Spigelia marilandica) © William Britten use with permission only

The bold red and yellow tubular blossoms against the new green leaf make Indian Pink (Spigelia marilandica) an unusually attractive Smoky Mtns wildflower. In the Smokies it is rare, growing only in the limestone-based soils of the northwest corner of the National Park. These are the same limestone deposits that create the caverns and sinks of this area in the Smokies and neighboring Tuckaleechee Cove and Dry Valley. Look for this wildflower along Rich Mountain Rd or Ace Gap Trail in late May or early June.

Indian Pink (Spigelia marilandica)
Indian Pink (Spigelia marilandica) © William Britten use with permission only

This plant is also called Pinkroot or Wormgrass because it contains the poisonous substance, spigeline, which was used as a de-wormer.

Please stop in to see the complete display of Smoky Mtns photography at the William Britten Gallery on Glades Rd in Gatlinburg, along the historic Arts and Crafts Trail. There may be a special memory waiting for you to take home!

And if you are a wildflowers enthusiast, please join my Smoky Mountains Wildflowers page on Facebook.  We share photos, bloom sightings and locations.

Smoky Mtns Wildflower
Smoky Mtns Wildflower
Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: Yellow Clintonia or Blue Bead Lily

Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: Yellow Clintonia or Blue Bead Lily

Blue Bead Lily (Clintonia borealis)
Blue Bead Lily (Clintonia borealis) © William Britten use with permission only

Blue Bead Lily (Clintonia borealis), also called Yellow Bead Lily or Yellow Clintonia, is one of two Smoky Mtns wildflowers named for long-ago Governor of New York, DeWitt Clinton. The other one is Speckled Wood Lily, or White Clintonia. The reason these yellow wildflowers are called “Blue Bead” refers to the bright blue bead-like fruit that forms later in the summer.

This yellow lily is smaller than its white-flowered cousin, and is a Northeastern plant occurring at the southern extreme of it’s range. In the Smoky Mtns it grows only at higher elevations. Almost any trail along Clingmans Dome Road will feature these petite beauties with their delicate and ephemeral blooms in late-May or early June. The Spruce-Fir Nature Trail has especially thick concentrations, as seen in the photo below.

Smoky Mtns wildflowers (Clintonia borealis)
Smoky Mtns wildflowers (Clintonia borealis) © William Britten use with permission only
Smoky Mtns wildflowers (Clintonia borealis)
Smoky Mtns wildflowers (Clintonia borealis) © William Britten use with permission only

The William Britten Gallery on Glades Rd in Gatlinburg, TN features my complete display of Smoky Mtns photos. There may be a Smokies memory there for you to take home!

Also, if you are a wildflowers enthusiast, please join my Smoky Mountains Wildflowers Community on Facebook. We trade photos and tips on bloom locations.

Spruce-Fir Nature Trail with hundreds of lilies set to bloom
Spruce-Fir Nature Trail with hundreds of lilies set to bloom
Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: Solomon’s Seal

Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: Solomon’s Seal

Solomon's Seal (Polygonatum biflorum)
Solomon's Seal (Polygonatum biflorum) © William Britten use with permission only

Solomon’s Seal (Polygonatum biflorum) is a member of the Lily family. It’s a graceful and delicate wildflower, with a single arching stem with upward-reaching leaves and tiny blossoms that hang down, as in the photo below. In fact, you might miss the small blossoms except for the fact that the plant likes to branch out from the steep hillsides that are often encountered on Smoky Mtns trails. The leaves appear in early April, and the flowers bloom from late April on into May. Hike almost any trail at the low to mid-elevations and you will see this wildflower.

The name Solomon’s Seal comes from the circular scar left on the root by each year’s flower stalk, resembling a wax seal.

Solomon's Seal (Polygonatum biflorum)
Solomon's Seal (Polygonatum biflorum) © William Britten use with permission only

When the wildflower hunt is over or when rain holds you back from a hike, please stop in at the William Britten Gallery on Glades Rd in Gatlinburg.  The complete display of Smoky Mtns photos might contain a special memory to take home!

Also, please consider joining my Smoky Mtns Wildflower Community on Facebook.  We share photos and exchange identification tips and trail locations.

Smoky Mtns wildflower
Smoky Mtns wildflower © William Britten use with permission only
Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: Meadow Parsnip

Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: Meadow Parsnip

Meadow Parsnip (Thaspium barbinode)
Meadow Parsnip (Thaspium barbinode) © William Britten use with permission only

The yellow variety of Meadow Parsnip (Thaspium barbinode) is very common and can be seen on many Smoky Mountains trails in late April into May. The name is somewhat of an oddity, as Meadow Parsnip is most commonly found in moist woods and stream banks in the Smokies.

These wildflowers are members of the Parsley family. Note how each tiny flower is at the end of its own little stalk. This is called an umbel, or an umbrella-like design, and is characteristic of the Parsley family.

The Purple Meadow Parsnip below is less commonly seen. Both photos here were taken on the Kanati Fork Trail, where the two wildflowers grow intermingled along the trail in a beautiful display.

Purple Meadow Parsnip
Purple Meadow Parsnip © William Britten use with permission only

The William Britten Gallery in the Morning Mist Village on the historic Arts and Crafts Trail in Gatlinburg has my complete display of Smoky Mountains photos. Please stop in for a visit if you are in the area!

You may also want to join my Smoky Mountains Wildflowers Community on Facebook.  We share photos and exchange identification tips and trail locations.

Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: Phacelia

Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: Phacelia

Miami Mist (Phacelia purshii)
Miami Mist (Phacelia purshii) © William Britten use with permission only

There are four varieties of Phacelias in the Smoky Mountains, three of them in the photos on this page. By far the most well-know is the Fringed Phacelia that blankets the hillsides in early spring, as in the photos at the bottom of the page. Astounding displays of this wildflower can be seen on the upper section of the Porters Creek Trail as well as the Cove Hardwoods Nature Trail in the Chimneys Picnic Area.

The photo above is Miami Mist, which blooms later, usually in May, and does not form the dense ground cover like the Fringed variety. Look for Miami Mist on the borders of Cades Cove meadows with its delicate lavender color.

Below is the Purple variety, which is the tallest member of the family. Look for clumps of these in mid-to-late April along Little River Road, where they may intermingle with the Wild Columbine to form a beautiful natural bouquet. They also grow towards the bottom of the Chestnut Top Trail.

Purple Phacelia (P. bipinnatifida)
Purple Phacelia (P. bipinnatifida) © William Britten use with permission only

Phacelias are also called “Scorpionweeds” because the new flowers seem to coil like a scorpion’s tail at the end of the stem. The white fringed variety will grow at 5000 foot elevations in the Smoky Mountains, and can be seen blanketing the Clingman’s Dome roadside and the Appalachian Trail with “snow” in May.

Fringed Phacelia
Fringed Phacelia © William Britten use with permission only

After your wildflower walks please stop in at the William Britten Gallery on Glades Rd in Gatlinburg where my complete display of Smoky Mountains photos may offer you a special Smokies memory to take home!

And if you are a wildflower enthusiast, please join my Smoky Mountains Wildflowers Community page on Facebook.  We share photos and trade information on flower locations.

Wildflower snow on Porters Creek Trail
Wildflower snow on Porters Creek Trail © William Britten use with permission only
Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: Jack in the Pulpit

Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: Jack in the Pulpit

Jack-in-the-Pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum)
Jack-in-the-Pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum) © William Britten use with permission only

Jack-in-the-Pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum) can be found along rich hillsides in late April and May. The spathe (pulpit) might be green or come with purple stripes. The inflorescence (Jack) has tiny flowers at its base. This Smoky Mtns wildflower is one of only five living organisms that can change sexes.

If you look carefully along hillside trails such as Chestnut Top, you can spot one of these. I also saw several along Laurel Creek Rd near the rock walls where the Bleeding Hearts grow. Later in the summer the spathe will be gone and you will see bright red berries.

The William Britten Gallery on Glades Rd offers my complete collection of Smoky Mtns photographs. Look for me in the Morning Mist Village collection of shops.

Smoky Mtns wildflower
Smoky Mtns wildflower © William Britten use with permission only
Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: Little Brown Jug

Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: Little Brown Jug

Little Brown Jug
Little Brown Jug © William Britten use with permission only

Little Brown Jug (Hexastylis arifolia) is a member of the Birthwort family.  Look for its rubbery, arrow-shaped leaves, which are evergreen. Peek beneath them, and there are the jugs, lying on the ground or covered with leaves.  These jugs are actually the flowers, or calyx, which is a flower without petals. These unusual characteristics make this a fun wildflower to hunt and find.  On Porters Creek Trail, there is a bridge on the lower section of the trail, large enough for a car to cross the creek. Just over this bridge, to the left, there is a clump of Little Brown Jugs.

The William Britten Gallery in Gatlinburg is where you’ll find the complete display of my Smoky Mtn photos. Please stop in and see if we have a special memory for you to take home. And if you are a wildflower enthusiast, please join my Facebook page for the Smoky Mountains Wildflower Community, where we share photos and trade location tips and help with wildflower identification.

Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: Umbrella Leaf

Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: Umbrella Leaf

Umbrella Leaf (Diphylleia cymosa)
Umbrella Leaf (Diphylleia cymosa) © William Britten use with permission only

Umbrella Leaf (Diphylleia cymosa) is a rarely seen Smoky Mountains wildflower and a relative of the more familiar May-apple. It can grow to three feet tall with large leaves spanning 24 inches. It favors damp conditions and deep shade, and so can be found in steep mountain coves with shallow seeps. Perfect conditions exist along the upper switchbacks along the Kanati Fork Trail, where these photos were taken in late April.

Umbrella leaf puts on a second attractive display when the stunning blue berries ripen later during the summer. This wildflower grows only in the southern Appalachian mountains.

Umbrella Leaf (Diphylleia cymosa)
Umbrella Leaf (Diphylleia cymosa) © William Britten use with permission only

If you are visiting the Smoky Mountains, please consider a stop at the William Britten Gallery on Glades Rd along the historic Arts and Crafts Trail in Gatlinburg. There may be a special Smokies memory there for you to take back home!  And if you are a wildflower enthusiast, you may enjoy the Smoky Mountains Wildflower Community on Facebook, where we share photos and tips on identification and flower sightings.

Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: Vasey’s Trillium

Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: Vasey’s Trillium

Vasey's Trillium (Trillium vaseyi)
Vasey's Trillium (Trillium vaseyi) © William Britten use with permission only

Vasey’s Trillium (Trillium vaseyi) is the largest and the last blooming of the Smoky Mountains trilliums. It is found only in the Southern Appalachians and is infrequently found in the Smokies. The photos on this page were taken on the Kanati Fork Trail in late April. George Vasey was a Botanist who lived from 1822-1893, and gave his name to the species.

This wildflower can grow to two feet tall, and the bloom can have a rose scent.

Vasey's Trillium (Trillium vaseyi)
Vasey's Trillium (Trillium vaseyi) © William Britten use with permission only

You can follow the wildflower season on Facebook by joining the Smoky Mountains Wildflower Community, where we share photos, identification, and tips on locations and trails.

If you are in the Gatlinburg area, please consider a visit to the William Britten Gallery where my complete collection of Smoky Mountains photography is on display. I’m in Morning Mist Village on Glades Rd along the Arts and Crafts Trail.

Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: White Baneberry

Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: White Baneberry

White Baneberry (Actaea pachypoda)
White Baneberry (Actaea pachypoda) © William Britten use with permission only

White Baneberry (Actaea pachypoda) is a member of the Buttercup family, and it blooms in mid to late April in the Smoky Mountains. I have often seen it blooming near the beginning of the Porters Creek Trail in the Greenbrier. This wildflower is aromatic and can grow to about 3 feet tall.

In the fall the hard white berries give this wildflower its other common name, Doll’s Eyes. You can see in the photo below where the name Doll’s Eyes comes from. The name Baneberry implies that these berries may be poisonous and should not be eaten.

Doll's Eyes (Actaea pachypoda)
Doll's Eyes (Actaea pachypoda) © William Britten use with permission only

You can follow the wildflower season on Facebook by joining the Smoky Mountains Wildflower Community, where we share photos, identification, and tips on locations and trails.

When you are in the Gatlinburg area, please stop in at the William Britten Gallery where my complete collection of Smoky Mountains photography is on display. I’m in Morning Mist Village on Glades Rd along the Arts and Crafts Trail.

Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: Speckled Wood Lily

Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: Speckled Wood Lily

Speckled Wood Lily (Clintonia umbellulata)
Speckled Wood Lily (Clintonia umbellulata) © William Britten use with permission only

Speckled Wood Lily (Clintonia umbellulata) is small member of the Lily family. It goes by several names, including Clinton’s Lily and White Clintonia. This wildflower grows on acidic forest floors, putting up an umbel atop a long stalk. The flowers may be speckled with purple (photo above) or green (photo below) spots, or have none. The flowers are quickly replaced by blue, poisonous berries.

This species was named for a former New York Governor, DeWitt Clinton, causing Henry David Thoreau to grumble about naming beautiful plants after politicians.

Speckled Wood Lily (Clintonia umbellulata)
Speckled Wood Lily (Clintonia umbellulata) © William Britten use with permission only

The photo at the top of the page was taken along the Kanati Fork Trail in late April, and the photo immediately above and the one below were taken on the Bud Ogle Nature Trail, where dozens of Clinton’s lilies grow.

If you are on a Smoky Mtn vacation, please consider a visit to the William Britten Gallery on Glades Rd in Gatlinburg. The complete collection of my Smoky Mtn photos is on display and you may find a Smokies memory to take back home.

Clinton's Lily (Clintonia umbellulata)
Clinton's Lily (Clintonia umbellulata) © William Britten use with permission only

 

Smoky Mtn wildflower
Smoky Mtn wildflower © William Britten use with permission only
Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: Bellwort

Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: Bellwort

Perfoliate Bellwort (Uvalaria perfoliata)
Perfoliate Bellwort (Uvalaria perfoliata) © William Britten use with permission only

There are several species of Bellwort that you  may encounter during Smoky Mtn springtime trail hikes. In the photos above and below you can easily see where the name comes from. Above is Perfoliate Bellwort (Uvalaria perfoliata). It’s smaller than Large-flowered Bellwort, but larger than the Sessileleaf Bellwort below. Other common names for this plant are Cow Bells or Merry Bells. The word “Perfoliate” refers to the way the leaves wrap around the stem.

Sessileleaf Bellwort (Uvularia sessilifolia), or more commonly called Wild Oats, also grows in weak, acidic soils of woodlands and roadsides. I’ve seen this one along both Porters Creek and Thomas Divide trails. It is a tiny, delicate plant, but with a fragrant blossom.

Sessileleaf Bellwort (Uvularia sessilifolia)
Sessileleaf Bellwort (Uvularia sessilifolia) © William Britten use with permission only

When you are in the Smoky Mtn area, please consider a visit to the William Britten Gallery on Glades Rd along the historic Arts and Crafts Trail in Gatlinburg. There may be a special Smokies memory there for you to take back home!  And if you are a wildflower enthusiast, you may enjoy the Smoky Mountains Wildflower Community on Facebook, where we share photos and tips on wildflower sightings.

Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: Yellow Lady’s Slipper

Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: Yellow Lady’s Slipper

Yellow Lady's Slipper (Cypripedium pubescens)
Yellow Lady's Slipper (Cypripedium pubescens) © William Britten use with permission only

Yellow Lady’s Slipper (Cypripedium pubescens) is a stunning and rare member of the orchid family. This is an April blooming Smoky Mtn wildflower.  Because of its scarcity and beauty, the Yellow Lady’s Slipper is endangered by poaching. For this reason, location information is passed quietly among  dedicated wildflower enthusiasts.

There are 47 varieties of the Cypripedium orchid, some growing as far north as Alaska.  Other common names for the genus include Moccasin Flower and Venus’ shoes. Unfortunately, most of these wild orchids have been driven close to extinction by collectors. Ironically, the plant rarely survives the attempt to transplant.

Yellow Lady's Slipper (Cypripedium pubescens)
Yellow Lady's Slipper (Cypripedium pubescens) © William Britten use with permission only

There are two Smoky Mtn varieties of Lady’s Slippers: the Yellow one shown here, and the Pink Lady’s Slipper. Both are rare and a real treat to find in the woods.

When you’re in the Gatlinburg area, please consider a stop at the William Britten Gallery on Glades Rd. You just might find a Smokies memory to take back home with you!  And if you’re a Facebook user as well as a wildflower enthusiast, please join our Smoky Mountains Wildflower Community on Facebook.

 

Smoky Mtn wildflower
Smoky Mtn wildflower © William Britten use with permission only

 

Ode to Dogwoods

Ode to Dogwoods

Dogwood panorama

In April of every year the Smoky Mountains are showered with dogwood blooms like a late spring snowstorm. Everywhere you go … up in the Greenbrier, along the Little River or the lower elevations of the Newfound Gap Road … in Elkmont and Tremont … the dogwoods sprinkle their blooms like white notes on the bare woodlands hungry for music. The opportunities for taking great photos are everywhere!

They whisper in the breeze …

Dogwood Whispers
Dogwood Whispers © William Britten - use with permission only

They harmonize with the wind …

 

Smoky Mountains Dogwood
Dogwood Harmony © William Britten - use with permission only

They rain down on all the woods …

Dogwood Shower
Dogwood Shower © William Britten - use with permission only

If you walk among the dogwood trees, and get real close-up, their blooms are a happy confirmation of the joy of life and the renewal of springtime. It’s hard to tell exactly when, but sometime between the 10th and 20th of April, the Smoky Mountains dogwoods will reach an intensely delicate peak. Some of the best locations in the Smoky Mountains for beautiful drives with the woods decked in white are the Greenbrier area and the Tremont area.

After your hike, or on a rainy day, please consider a visit to the William Britten Gallery on Glades Rd here in Gatlinburg. I’m in Morning Mist Village, right next to the Cafe courtyard. The Gallery contains my complete display of Smoky Mountains photography, with several best-selling Dogwood images: Dogwood Rain, Dogwood Tapestry, and Dogwood Lullaby.

Close-up of dogwood bloom
Close-up of dogwood bloom © William Britten use with permission only

 

Dogwood Blossom
Dogwood Blossom © William Britten - use with permission only

 

Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: Wild Ginger

Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: Wild Ginger

Wild Ginger (Asarum canadense)
Wild Ginger (Asarum canadense) © William Britten use with permission only

Wild Ginger (Asarum canadense) is an unusual Smoky Mountains wildflower found in April on moist hillsides and stream banks. It’s a member of the Birthwort family, and the rhizomes do actually have the taste and smell of ginger. The plant has been used as a natural tea to ease an assortment of ailments.

If you learn to recognize the two umbrella-like heart-shaped leaves, you can peek underneath to see the maroon blossom usually lying on the ground, where it can be pollinated by crawling insects. This wildflower is not too hard to find. I have seen Wild Ginger on the Chestnut Top trail and the banks on either side of Fern Branch Falls on Porters Creek Trail, where they seem to thrive in the nooks of the boulders that cascade down from the waterfall.

Smoky Mountains Wild Ginger (Asarum canadense)
Smoky Mountains Wild Ginger (Asarum canadense) © William Britten use with permission only

If you’re in the Gatlinburg area on vacation or a wildflower hunt, please come on out to the Arts and Crafts Loop on Glades Rd. The William Britten Gallery has my complete collection of Smoky Mountains photography.

Walking the Ogle Nature Trail

Walking the Ogle Nature Trail

Bud Ogle Cabin
Bud Ogle Cabin © William Britten use with permission only

This past week I took advantage of a lovely spring morning to walk to Bud Ogle Nature Trail before my day in the Gallery began.  The Bud Ogle Farm is a popular tourist stop at the start of the Roaring Fork Motor Trail, one of the best Smoky Mountains drives.  Most people explore Bud’s cabin and barn and get back in the car. But there is a great little nature trail that starts just off the back porch of the cabin! It’s a wonderful meander around a fairly level loop, crossing LeConte Creek several times.

On this morning the early light softened the dogwoods that were blooming around the Ogle place.

Ogle Tub Mill
Ogle Tub Mill © William Britten use with permission only

Not too far down the trail is the old Tub Mill. The sluice is still there, but not catching any water these days. This mill is one of 13 that worked along LeConte Creek at one time or another.

Today the most notable feature at the mill was the incredible stands of Foamflower in perfect bloom. It’s unusual to see so many of these wildflowers grouped together.

Foamflower panorama
Foamflower panorama © William Britten use with permission only

On down the nature trail there were equally impressive stands of Dwarf Crested Iris. See the dewdrops perched on the Iris leaves? Each one of those drops was reflecting the entire field of wildflowers! I’m going to head back here real soon with a long lens that can magnify those dewdrops!

Crested Dwarf Iris
Crested Dwarf Iris © William Britten use with permission only

Finally, one more find.  Just off the trail is a big jumble of boulders. Looking over at them, it appeared that they were covered with moss. But when I detoured over for a close look, these massive boulders were in fact hosting huge communities of Wild Stonecrop!  Wow!

If you’re in the Gatlinburg area, I’d be delighted if you’d stop in at the William Britten Gallery on Glades Rd in the Arts and Crafts Loop. My collection of Smoky Mountains photos just might have that Smokies memory you’ve been looking for!

Wild Stonecrop
Wild Stonecrop © William Britten use with permission only
Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: Shooting Star

Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: Shooting Star

Shooting Star (Dodecatheon meadia)
Shooting Star (Dodecatheon meadia) © William Britten use with permission only

Shooting Star (Dodecatheon meadia) is an unusual and attractive Smoky Mtn wildflower. It’s a member of the Primrose family and grows to two feet high. All of the photos on this page were taken in mid-April during a hike to White Oak Sinks in the Smokies.

The name Dodecatheon means “twelve gods.” This wildflower grows from southern Minnesota to northern Georgia. It is fairly uncommon in the Smoky Mountains.

Shooting Star (Dodecatheon meadia)
Shooting Star (Dodecatheon meadia) © William Britten use with permission only

When your wildflower hunt is over for the day, the William Britten Gallery on Glades Rd features all of my Smoky Mtn photos. Please stop in, say hello, and browse the collection.

Smoky Mtn Wildflower
Smoky Mtn Wildflower © William Britten use with permission only

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