Tag Archives: wildflower

Wildflower Photography: Coneflower Dreamscape

Wildflower Photography: Coneflower Dreamscape


Coneflower Dreamscape © William Britten use with permission only

The photograph above is the Green Headed, or Cutleaf Coneflower.  It blooms all along the roadside in the middle of summer up near Clingman’s Dome in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park .

Here’s a fun photo tip for taking a picture like the one above. One of my favorite techniques is to take the photo twice: once in a normal mode with your subject in focus, and a second time with the picture out of focus. You will need to have a camera or lens that allows you to turn the auto-focus off.  Then you will need some basic Photoshop skills to blend the two images together.  With this fairly simple technique you can create images with added depth.

The photo below is the blurred version that was blended into the image above to help create the dreamy effect.

Please stop in and visit me to see the complete display of Smoky Mountain Photography at the William Britten Gallery in Gatlinburg, TN. The Gallery is located along the historic Arts and Crafts Trail along Glades Rd.  In addition to framed and matted prints, there are magnets, mugs, and notecards to help you take a Smokies memory home.

Blurred version of the Coneflowers
Blurred version of the Coneflowers © William Britten use with permission only

impressionism prints

Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: Trailing Arbutus

Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: Trailing Arbutus

Smoky Mountains photos: wildflowers
Trailing Arbutus (Epigaea repens) © William Britten use with permission only

Trailing Arbutus (Epigaea repens) is one of the earliest wildflowers to bloom in the Smoky Mountains. All of the photos on this page were found near the top of the Chestnut Top Trail, starting to bloom in mid-March. The blossom tends from white to pale pink. There are also good displays of Trailing Arbutus along the trail to Spruce Flat Falls as well as the Abrams Falls Trail. All of these trails offer great opportunities of Smoky Mountains photos of wildflowers.

This wildflower forms a low-growing shrub-like evergreen which sheds and replaces its leaves in the spring after the bloom. The delicately scented blossom was used by mountain women as a perfume.

Please stop in for a visit at the William Britten Gallery in Gatlinburg, TN to see the complete display of  Smoky Mountains Photos. And if you are a fan of Smoky Mountains wildflowers, please consider joining my wildflowers page on facebook.  We feature photography and information on bloom sightings.

Smoky Mountains photos: wildflowers
Trailing Arbutus (Epigaea repens) © William Britten use with permission only
Smoky Mountains photos: wildflowers
Smoky Mountains photos: wildflowers © William Britten use with permission only
Wildflower Photography Tips

Wildflower Photography Tips

Photo Tip for wildflowers
Photo Tip for wildflowers © William Britten use with permission only

Updated 2012: This blog post was originally written two years ago, in spring of 2010. The information here is still very valid and useful, but in the past couple of years I’ve adopted a more “minimalist” approach to photography, and especially wildflower photos. The main difference is that I’m now using a very lightweight camera, which I find very enjoyable for Smoky Mountains hiking. I currently use a Panasonic Lumix GH2, which is a micro-four-thirds system. This allows me to carry a camera with a 600mm equivalent lens in the palm of one hand! This is fabulous for all kinds of photography, especially wildlife and wildflower photos.

So, although I still use the system pictured above for serious wildflower portraits — a full-frame Canon DSLR with ring-flash and tripod — my every day gear these days is the small GH2 on a monopod (which doubles as my hiking stick!) with the 14-140 lens. This gives me a 28-280 zoom in 35mm equivalent terms, and I find it gives very good results for wildflower close-ups. I’ve added a typical shot from this camera/lens at the bottom of this page. It doesn’t give you that classic “macro” look with the extreme narrow depth of field, but it gives very good results … and it’s so much fun to use! And I still wouldn’t leave home without the 12″ LiteDisc in my back pocket!

There are several issues to consider when photographing wildflowers in the Smoky Mountains. First, many of them are tiny, so to get a real good portrait you will need a macro lens. I find that the 100mm is most useful, although I also use a 180mm. In general, macro lenses are reasonably priced and tend to be of very high quality.

Second, although it may seem counter-intuitive, the sun is not your friend. A flower bathed in direct sunlight will be harshly lit with shadows that are too dark for your camera to contend with. There are exceptions to this of course, such as the golden, syrupy light of early morning or sunset. But in general, you will want something  to shade the plant. I carry a 12″ disc called a LiteDisc by Fotoflex, which will collapse into a small disc that fits in my back pocket. You can get one that is silver on one side (pictured above) and gold on the other side. These can also be used to reflect light into the scene. Or you can get a translucent disc that will turn direct sunlight into a diffused, soft light. Or you might just try an umbrella!

Third, now that you have blocked the sunlight, you will need to provide your own light. In the picture above you can see a ring flash attached to the front of my macro lens. The advantage of the ring flash is that the camera will automatically bathe the flower in a perfect light, giving you great exposures every time. You will not be able to get the same effect from a normal flash attachment.  An alternative to the ring flash is a small portable “soft box.”  Or the no-cost solution would be to go out on rainy days. But most of the time you will have no control over the lighting conditions, so by carrying these items you will always be able to create a perfect lighting environment.

Fourth, the problem that is the most difficult to solve is wind. Again, these are tiny, delicate blossoms, and you are down on your hands and knees with a magnifying lens. You’ve carefully composed a perfect view of this miniature world, and suddenly those little plants start waving about in just a slight breeze. There’s not much to do except wait it out. Stick your eyes in the viewfinder until your knees give out, and if there is just a second or two of calm, snap the picture. Also, early mornings tend to be calmer, and as the day heats up it creates air currents. Also, if the forecast is for wind or an approaching storm front, postpone your trip if you can.

In the photo above I was interested in the little white Star Chickweed blossoms in a clump underneath the Yellow Trillium on the Chestnut Top Trail. Below is the final image. Click on the image above or below for a larger version.

That’s my photo tip for getting great wildflower pictures. Please stop in and visit me to see the complete display of Smoky Mountain Photography at the William Britten Gallery in Gatlinburg, TN.

Star Chickweed © William Britten use with permission only
Star Chickweed © William Britten use with permission only
White Erect Trillium taken with Panasonic GH2
White Erect Trillium taken with Panasonic GH2
Sunflowers of Cades Cove

Sunflowers of Cades Cove

Narrow-Leaved Sunflower © William Britten use with permission only
Narrow-Leaved Sunflower © William Britten use with permission only

The sunflowers family is a big one, with 20 species known to inhabit Tennessee, and 7 of those found within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. On a tour of the Cades Cove Loop Road, you will see many of these.

Early one morning recently, I made the loop, stopping constantly to investigate yet another yellow cluster of yellow wildflowers. However, even with a couple of guidebooks, identification is not simple. So the labels on these images are my best guess.  Please feel free to offer corrections.

In any case, these yellow sunflowers are beautiful … adding even more sunshine to a bright summer day.

If you take a break from touring the Smokies, please stop in and visit me to see the complete display of Smoky Mountains Photos at the William Britten Gallery along the historic Arts and Crafts Trail on Glades Rd. in Gatlinburg, TN.

Whorled Rosinweed © William Britten use with permission only
Whorled Rosinweed © William Britten use with permission only
Wide-leaved sunflower © William Britten use with permission only
Wide-leaved sunflower © William Britten use with permission only
Black-eyed Susan © William Britten use with permission only
Black-eyed Susan © William Britten use with permission only
Wildflower Wallpaper!

Wildflower Wallpaper!

Smoky Mountains Wildflower Wallpaper
Smoky Mountains Wildflower Wallpaper

To celebrate summer in the Smokies, for all my blog, facebook, and twitter followers I’m offering another free image in a series of Smoky Mountains photos that can be used as a desktop wallpaper or as a screensaver.  The image, and all other wallpapers, can be downloaded from http://williambritten.com/wallpaper/ Just click on the file name wildflower-screensaver2.jpg, and then once the large image has come up in your browser, right-click on it to save it to your hard drive. Then follow instructions below.

The image shows some green-headed coneflowers that have been changed a bit with some background textures blended in to give the picture more complexity.

For Windows users, just save the file to any location, then Open Desktop Background by clicking the Start button , clicking Control Panel, clicking Appearance and Personalization, clicking Personalization, and then clicking Desktop Background. Then click the Picture location down arrow and click Browse to search for the picture on your computer. When you find the picture you want, double-click it. It will become your desktop background and appear in the list of desktop backgrounds. Finally, under How should the picture be positioned, choose to have the picture fit the screen, and then click OK.

On the Mac, save the image to your Pictures folder, or any other location. Open System Preferences icon on your dock, and select Desktop & Screensaver. Select the picture, and then select Fill Screen, or Stretch to Fill Screen.

Watch for more free wallpaper images in the weeks to come!  And please stop in and visit me to see the complete display of Smoky Mountains Photos at the William Britten Gallery along the historic Arts and Crafts Trail on Glades Road in Gatlinburg, TN.

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: 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
Free Smoky Mountains Wallpaper: Mountain Laurel

Free Smoky Mountains Wallpaper: Mountain Laurel

Mountain Laurel Wallpaper
Mountain Laurel Wallpaper

Celebrating Mountain Laurel time, a special Smoky Mountains event that happens every May, I’m offering this free computer wallpaper or screensaver image. It’s a close-up of a bloom with some extra textures blended in.

This photo, and all other Smoky Mountains wallpaper, can be downloaded from http://williambritten.com/wallpaper/ Just click on the file name “mountain-laurel-wall.jpg” and then once the large image has come up in your browser, right-click on it to save it to your hard drive. Then follow instructions below. All wallpaper images are  © William Britten and are for your personal use only.

For Windows users, save the file to any location, then Open Desktop Background by clicking the Start button , clicking Control Panel, clicking Appearance and Personalization, clicking Personalization, and then clicking Desktop Background. Then click the Picture location down arrow and click Browse to search for the picture on your computer. When you find the picture you want, double-click it. It will become your desktop background and appear in the list of desktop backgrounds. Finally, under How should the picture be positioned, choose to have the picture fit the screen, and then click OK.

On the Mac, save the image to your Pictures folder, or any other location. Open System Preferences icon on your dock, and select Desktop & Screensaver. Select the picture, and then select Fill Screen, or Stretch to Fill Screen.

Watch for more free wallpaper images in the weeks to come!  And please stop in and visit me to see the complete display of Smoky Mountains Photography at the William Britten Gallery in Gatlinburg, TN, along the Arts and Crafts Trail on Glades Rd.

 

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.

Changes in Altitude

Changes in Altitude

Spring Snow in the Smoky Mountains
Spring Snow in the Smoky Mountains © William Britten use with permission only

Happy Friday!  It’s been a while since we had a Philosophical Friday.  Today’s thoughts are about living in an area like Gatlinburg that features great changes in altitude. Downtown Gatlinburg is about 1500 feet above sea level, yet only about 20 miles away, on the top of Clingman’s Dome, the altitude has climbed to 6,643 feet! That’s over a mile higher!

So, what’s philosophical about that? Well, as in the photo above, it can be a delightful spring day in early May down at 1500 feet, but after a 20 minute drive you could be making a snowman! It’s almost like being able to move around in time, just a little. Or it’s like adding another dimension to life. In most geographical areas the climate is determined by the two factors: the time of year and the latitude. But when you add that third factor, altitude, the possibilities are expanded. For example, the photo below shows the wildflower Spring Beauty crowding the Appalachian Trail near Newfound Gap. The photo was taken this week, in late April. But we enjoyed Spring Beauty on some of the favorite wildflower trails over a month ago!

Spring comes to the Appalachian Trail
Spring comes to the Appalachian Trail © William Britten use with permission only

The Trout Lily below is another example of the changes in altitude. I missed Trout Lily when it bloomed weeks ago, but by hiking the mile-higher Appalachian Trail this week I was able to turn back the clock and get a photo!  And of course the whole thing works in reverse during the fall, when we can rise up into winter before the season would normally start, as shown in my photo of the Smoky Mountains Moonrise.

Thanks for listening to my ramblings, and as always, please stop in at the William Britten Gallery in Gatlinburg to see my complete collection of Smoky Mountains photos.

Trout Lily on the Appalachian Trail
Trout Lily on the Appalachian Trail © William Britten use with permission only

 

 

 

 

Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: Dwarf Ginseng

Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: Dwarf Ginseng

Dwarf Ginseng (Panax trifolius)
Dwarf Ginseng (Panax trifolius) © William Britten use with permission only

Dwarf Ginseng (Panax trifolius) is a tiny plant. The photos on this page make it seem larger than it is. In reality it is something like a white gumdrop lying on the forest floor!

The globe-like blossom at the end of a single stem is known as an umbel.  This variety of Ginseng has no “medicinal” properties, like its cousin Panax quinquefolius.

Dwarf Ginseng (Panax trifolius
Dwarf Ginseng (Panax trifolius) © William Britten use with permission only

Please stop in at the William Britten Gallery in Gatlinburg to see the complete collection of Smoky Mtn photos. If you are a Facebook user, join the discussion on the Smoky Mountains Wildflowers page.

Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: Columbine

Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: Columbine

Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis)
Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) © William Britten use with permission only

Wild Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) is a delicate and beautiful presence all along Little River Rd in the Smoky Mountains during April. Look opposite of the river, along the rock walls that border the road. Their pale orange and yellow colors actually blend into the surroundings as you drive by, but if you stop at almost any of the pullouts along the road, you will see plenty of Columbine. It can grow up to four feet tall, but most of the plants are closer to two feet.

The common name Columbine means “dove,” and the genus name Aquilegia means “eagle.” These names allude to the upper part of the blossom, which resembles the talons of these birds. In fact, the Columbine was proposed as the National wildflower because of its eagle-like properties.

The deep blossoms are pollinated primarilly by hummingbirds.

Smoky Mountains Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis)
Smoky Mountains Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) © William Britten use with permission only

For taking photos of Columbine, the dark backdrop of a rock wall makes for impressive contrast. In springtime, these walls often drip with seepage, making the wildflowers even more colorful and fresh.

The William Britten Gallery along Glades Rd in Gatlinburg has a wonderful collection of Smoky Mountains photos. Come on in and pick out a Smokies memory for your home!

Wildflower Aquilegia canadensis
Wildflower Aquilegia canadensis © William Britten use with permission only
Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: Bleeding Heart

Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: Bleeding Heart

Bleeding Heart (Dicentra eximia)
Bleeding Heart (Dicentra eximia) © William Britten use with permission only

Bleeding Heart (Dicentra eximia) is the largest, rarest, last to bloom, and probably the most stunning of the Smoky Mountains Dicentras. The other two in this family are Dutchman’s Breeches and Squirrel Corn. The word “dicentra” in Greek means “two-spurred,” and describes the unique shape of the blossoms.

The photos on this page were all taken along Laurel Creek Rd, about a mile west of the entrance to Tremont. This wildflower loves to find a foothold on the rock walls that border the road. Look for the distinctive blooms in April. Another sure spot to find them is along Abrams Falls Trail. About halfway to the falls there is a rock wall along Arbutus Ridge.

Stunning Smoky Mountains Wildflower
Stunning Smoky Mountains Wildflower © William Britten use with permission only

Note the foliage of this wildflower, which is common to all three of the Dicentras.  Spotting this foliage is often the best way to locate these plants.

Bleeding Heart Dicentra eximia
Bleeding Heart Dicentra eximia © William Britten use with permission only

The wild form of Bleeding Heart is similar but not the same as the Asian garden variety, which has larger blossoms.

Dicentra eximia is sometimes called Turkey Corn, and also Staggerweed, because of its ability to intoxicate animals that graze on it.

Dicentra eximia
Dicentra eximia © William Britten use with permission only

Bleeding Heart is a Smoky Mountains wildflower that is not often seen, and its rarity only adds to the appreciation of its beauty.

The William Britten Gallery on Glades Rd in Gatlinburg offers the full display of my Smoky Mountains photos. I’d love to have you come in for a visit to chat about wildflowers or browse the collection to find a mountain memory for your home.

If you are a wildflower enthusiast, please join the discussion on the Smoky Mountains Wildflowers page on Facebook. You’ll find lots of tips on where and when to locate these little treats.

Porters Creek Trail Wildflower Report

Porters Creek Trail Wildflower Report

Fringed Phacelia on Porters Creek Trail
Fringed Phacelia on Porters Creek Trail © William Britten use with permission only

Porters Creek Trail in the Greenbrier area of the Smoky Mountains is in peak bloom for spring wildflowers right now. The upper portion of the trail, from the long footbridge over the creek on up to Fern Falls, has a stunning ground cover of Fringed Phacelia. I counted over 20 species of wildflowers along Porters Creek Trail this past Saturday. You can’t see it from the photo above, but the Fringed Phacelia are interspersed with Bishops Cap, making a wonderful white bouquet.

Wild Ginger along Porters Creek Trail
Wild Ginger along Porters Creek Trail © William Britten use with permission only

Fern Falls is about a two-mile hike from the trail-head. During summer this falls is often dry, but after some spring rains it is flowing nicely. The jumble of boulders below the falls seems to be a perfect environment for Wild Ginger, Saxifrage, Bishops Cap, and Squirrel Corn.

Just below the footbridge that takes you into Fringed Phacelia fantasyland, I spotted one lone Painted Trillium beside the trail.

Painted Trillium
Painted Trillium © William Britten use with permission only

The lower portion of the trail was not as dramatic as the upper part, but there were nice clumps of Foamflower, and Wood Anemone, lots of Toothwort of both varieties and a few Wild Geraniums. Also a few very nice colonies of Crested Dwarf Iris. And finally, a few Showy Orchis just starting to bloom along the trail, and one in full bloom as you exit the parking area.

Foamflower along Porters Creek Trail
Foamflower along Porters Creek Trail © William Britten use with permission only

If you’d like to follow along with the wildflower season, and you are a Facebook user, please consider becoming a fan of my Smoky Mountains Wildflowers page on Facebook.

And if you’re in the area on a vacation, please stop in at the William Britten Gallery on Glades Rd in Gatlinburg, where all of my Smoky Mountains photos are on display.

Smoky Mountains wildflowers Showy Orchis
Smoky Mountains wildflowers Showy Orchis © William Britten use with permission only
Crested Dwarf Iris
Crested Dwarf Iris
Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: Trout Lily

Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: Trout Lily

Trout Lily (Erythronium umbilicatum)
Trout Lily (Erythronium umbilicatum) © William Britten use with permission only

Trout Lily (Erythronium umbilicatum) is an early spring bloomer that can be found before the trees leaf out in the lower elevations of the Smoky Mountains.  However, I have seen it blooming much later near the 6000 foot level along the Clingman’s Dome Road.

Trout Lily often forms large colonies by way of their root system, making a very attractive display in moist wooded areas. The leaves are a long, elliptical pair with the distinctive brown mottling that gives the flower its common name. Another common name is Dogtooth Violet – dogtooth referring to the hard white roots.

On the Appalachian Trail in late April
On the Appalachian Trail in late April © William Britten use with permission only

This wildflower performs a unique function in nature. Their roots retrieve phosphorus from the soil and transfer it to the leaves. Grazing wildlife such as deer eat the leaves for a valuable source of the mineral.

After your wildflower pilgrimages, please stop in and visit me to see the complete display of Smoky Mountains Photography at the William Britten Gallery in Gatlinburg, TN.

Smoky Mountains Trout Lily (Erythronium umbilicatum)
Smoky Mountains Trout Lily (Erythronium umbilicatum) © William Britten use with permission only
Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: Sweet White Trillium

Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: Sweet White Trillium

Sweet White Trillium (Trillium simile)
Sweet White Trillium (Trillium simile) © William Britten use with permission only)

Sweet White Trillium (Trillium simile) is the white form of Wakerobin Trillium, and is also called White Wakerobin. In the lower elevations of the Smoky Mountains this large trillium usually blooms in late March or early April. Sweet White Trillium can be identified by its dark purple center surrounded by yellow stamens. Stands of  Trillium simile can be found along many trails, including Chestnut Top and Meigs Creek. These stands bloom before the common White Trillium that are so plentiful on Smoky Mountains hillsides all over the Park during April.

There is some conflict among wildflower authorities as to the distinction between the Sweet White Trillium (T. simile) and the Erect Trillium (T. erectum), aka “Wake Robin” which has red(purple) and white forms. Some consider T. simile to be a variety of T. erectum while others view it as a distinct entity. This conflict is evident in two of the more common Smoky Mountain wildflower books, “Wildflowers of the Smokies” published by the GSMA and “Great Smoky Mountains Wildflowers” by Hutson, Hutson, & Sharp. Perhaps  the most significant distinction between the two is the odor. Wake Robin has a foul odor, hence it’s other common names Stinking Willie, Stinking Benjamin, and Wet Dog Trillium. Sweet White Trillium does not have this unpleasant odor.

Sweet White Trillium (Trillium simile)
Sweet White Trillium (Trillium simile) © William Britten use with permission only

When you’re ready for a break from wildflower scavenger hunts, please consider a visit to the William Britten Gallery in Gatlinburg. We’re out on Glades Rd on the historic Arts and Crafts Loop.  Also, you can join the discussion of Smoky Mountains wildflowers on Facebook.  You can post your own photos and share trail information.

Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: Bloodroot

Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: Bloodroot

Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) © William Britten use with permission only
Smoky Mountains Wildflower: Bloodroot © William Britten use with permission only

The calendar has turned towards warmth and renewal, the Smoky Mountains trails are shaking off their winter drowse, and once again we are headed towards the great spring wildflower pilgrimage. This is an exciting time of year when the trails seem to change on a daily basis.

Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) is a delicate, subtle beauty that blooms in late March or very early April in the lower elevations of the Smoky Mountains.  As the bloom is short-lived, the plant is most easily identified by its distinctive multi-lobed leaf. There is a great cluster of Bloodroot near the start of Porters Creek Trail and along the Chestnut Top trail. Look for the bloom to start in mid-March.

This wildflower gets its name from the reddish sap found in the root. The sap was used by settlers for dye, and was also used as an herbal remedy, although modern knowledge suggests caution for the toxicity of Bloodroot, even for external use.

The bloom is short-lived, and will typically not unfurl until the day warms up.

Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis)
Bloodroot with Spring Beauty © William Britten use with permission only

The photo above was taken along the Chestnut Top Trail on March 20, 2011. The photo below was found near the Porters Creek trailhead on a cold, wet day that kept the bloom from unfolding. Notice the distinctive leaf in the photo below, that is the easiest way to spot this wildflower.

Please stop in and visit me to see the complete display of Smoky Mountain Photography at the William Britten Gallery in Gatlinburg, TN. You can follow William Britten’s daily Smoky Mountains blog posts on Facebook.  Click the “Like” button for the daily feed into your Facebook account.

 

Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis)
Bloodroot near Porters Creek Trail 3-19-2011 © William Britten use with permission only
Chestnut Top Trail Wildflower Update

Chestnut Top Trail Wildflower Update

Smoky Mountains Wildflower: Bloodroot
Smoky Mountains Wildflower: Bloodroot © William Britten use with permission only

The wildflower season is just getting started. As of Monday, March 14th, here’s what’s happening on the Chestnut Top Trail, one of the best wildflower trails in the Smoky Mountains.

There’s an army of Bloodroot ready to unfurl their flags. These should be in full display by the weekend. The photo above shows the only bloom I could find open. The one below is what I saw dozens of.

Bloodroot on the Chestnut Top Trail
Bloodroot on the Chestnut Top Trail © William Britten use with permission only

There are Spring Beauties all over and I saw a beautiful colony of Hepatica huddled under the protection of an overhanging rock.

Spring Beauty on the Chestnut Top Trail
Spring Beauty on the Chestnut Top Trail © William Britten use with permission only
Hepatica on the Chestnut Top Trail
Hepatica on the Chestnut Top Trail © William Britten use with permission only

But the bonus is way up the trail, a half-mile after you think there are no more wildflowers, after the trail levels off and makes a sharp turn to the left, and still a hundred yards after that. There’s a large group of Trailing Arbutus just starting to bloom.

Trailing Arbutus
Trailing Arbutus © William Britten use with permission only

 

Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: Hepatica

Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: Hepatica

Hepatica (Hepatica acutiloba) Smoky Mountains wildflower
Hepatica (Hepatica acutiloba) © William Britten use with permission only

Hepatica (Hepatica acutiloba) is one of the earliest Smoky Mountains wildflowers. The pictures above and below were taken on March 8th along the Cove Hardwoods Nature Trail. On that day Hepatica was the only one of the wildflowers to be seen on the trail!

Hepatica is a member of the buttercup family and comes in two varieties in the Smoky Mountains: sharp-lobed (picture above) and round-lobed (picture below). These terms refer to the shape of the leaf. The plant can be found in rich woodlands and banks.  A petite single bloom with 5-12 sepals sits atop a hairy stem. It’s really hard to miss these wildflowers when almost nothing else is blooming!

Hepatica (Hepatica acutiloba) in the Smoky Mountains
Round-lobed Hepatica (Hepatica americana) © William Britten use with permission only

The word Hepatica means “of the liver.”  These wildflowers are often called Liverwort and were presumed to have curative effects for ailments of the liver. The color of the bloom ranges from white to pink, lavender, purple and pale blue. The plant and bloom are quite tiny and might be nearly invisible were it not for the bare landscape at the time of their blooming.

Hepatica (Hepatica acutiloba) Smoky Mountains wildflower
Hepatica (Hepatica acutiloba) © William Britten use with permission only

If I don’t see you out on the wildflowers trails, please stop in at the William Britten Gallery in Gatlinburg in the Morning Mist Village Shops on Glades Rd. My complete collection of Smoky Mountains pictures is on display.

 

Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: False Foxglove

Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: False Foxglove

Foxglove  © William Britten use with permission only
Foxglove © William Britten use with permission only
Foxglove  © William Britten use with permission only
Foxglove © William Britten use with permission only

False Foxglove (Aureolaria laevigata) is an early autumn wildflower that blooms in September. It seems to be especially attractive to bumble bees, and on early morning walks there is always a loud buzzing as I pass by the cheerful bright yellow foxgloves. The bumble bees will stuff themselves way down inside the blossom, like the one pictured to the right.

This plant is also known as “oak leech” due to its parasitic feeding on oak tree roots.

Please stop in and visit me to see the complete display of Smoky Mountain Photography at the William Britten Gallery in Gatlinburg, TN.

Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: the Asters of Autumn

Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: the Asters of Autumn

Heartleaf Aster © William Britten use with permission only
Heartleaf Aster © William Britten use with permission only

In Greek mythology, the goddess Astraea wept as she ascended into the heavens to become the constellation Virgo. Where her tears touched the Earth, Asters sprouted.

Wildflowers of the Aster family brighten up the landscape in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in the autumn season. You can see them everywhere, along roadsides and trails.

White Wood Aster © William Britten use with permission only
White Wood Aster © William Britten use with permission only

Please stop in and visit me to see the complete display of Smoky Mountain Photography at the William Britten Gallery in Gatlinburg, TN.

Ironweed © William Britten use with permission only
Ironweed © William Britten use with permission only
Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: Sneezeweed

Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: Sneezeweed

Sneezeweed © William Britten use with permission only
Sneezeweed © William Britten use with permission only

Sneezeweed, or Bitterweed (Helenium amarum) is a common and pretty roadside summer wildflower. If cows eat this plant, their milk will taste bitter, giving the plant one of it’s common names. From the name Sneezeweed, you might assume a summer allergy problem. The name actually comes from Native Americans practice of using the dried flower heads as snuff.

Sneezeweed © William Britten use with permission only
Sneezeweed © William Britten use with permission only

Please stop in and visit me to see the complete display of Smoky Mountain Photography at the William Britten Gallery in Gatlinburg, TN.

Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: Pink Turtlehead

Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: Pink Turtlehead

Pink turtlehead (Chelone lyonii) © William Britten use with permission only
Pink turtlehead (Chelone lyonii) © William Britten use with permission only

Pink turtlehead (Chelone lyonii) favors wet areas like seeps and stream banks. The image above was taken along the Clingman’s Dome Road in the Great Smoky Mountains where water was draining from the steep bank above it.

The botanical name Chelone derives from the Greek word for turtle. If you examine the bloom closely, it resembles a turtle shell with a head peeking out. Insects are lured down into the opening for pollination.

Please stop in and visit me to see the complete display of Smoky Mountain Photography at the William Britten Gallery in Gatlinburg, TN.

Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: False Dragonhead

Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: False Dragonhead

False Dragonhead  © William Britten use with permission only
False Dragonhead © William Britten use with permission only

False Dragonhead (Physostegia viginiana) is also called the Obedient Plant. Notice the way the flower buds line up perfectly in a column. If you twist the bloom, it will stay put, being obedient. For this reason, and because they are long-lasting, the plant is often cultivated for cut flower arrangements.

False Dragonhead blooms from July-October, favors moist habitats, and can grow over six feet tall. It is a member of the Mint family.

Please stop in and visit me to see the complete display of Smoky Mountain Photography at the William Britten Gallery in Gatlinburg, TN.

Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: Flowering Spurge

Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: Flowering Spurge

Flowering Spurge © William Britten use with permission only
Flowering Spurge © William Britten use with permission only

Flowering Spurge (Euphorbia corollata) is a large, bushy plant with many small flowers. It favors fields, roadsides, and open woods.  The picture above was taken along the Cades Cove Loop Road in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  The image picture was in the Greenbrier section along Porters Creek Trail. Look for Flowering Spurge in mid to late summer.

This plant has a few nicknames, such as Go Quick, Purging Root, and Emetic Root. From these names you may be able to deduce the plant’s purported medicinal value. A doctor in reported in 1817 that it was among the “most efficient of the evacuating class” of plants.

Please stop in and visit me to see the complete display of Smoky Mountain Photography at the William Britten Gallery in Gatlinburg, TN.

Flowering Spurge © William Britten use with permission only
Flowering Spurge © William Britten use with permission only
Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: Pale Jewelweed

Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: Pale Jewelweed

Pale Jewelweed © William Britten use with permission only
Pale Jewelweed © William Britten use with permission only
Jewelweed leaf
Jewelweed leaf

We’ll spend this week catching up on our review of the summer wildflowers found in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Pale Jewelweed (Impatiens pallida) is also known as Pale Touch-Me-Not.  This is a large plant, up to six feet, favoring moist, shady wooded areas. The name Jewelweed refers to its habit of accumulating water droplets on the leaves which reflect the light. The photo at right shows this transpiration occurring on a jewelweed leaf on a hot sunny day.

The juices of Jewelweed are reputed to be a soothing remedy for skin irritations. Look for it along the Newfound Gap Road or the Porters Creek Trail in the Greenbrier section during the summer.

Please stop in and visit me to see the complete display of Smoky Mountain Photography at the William Britten Gallery in Gatlinburg, TN.

Pale Jewelweed © William Britten use with permission only
Pale Jewelweed © William Britten use with permission only
Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: Smooth Creeping Bush Clover

Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: Smooth Creeping Bush Clover

Smooth Creeping Bush Clover © William Britten use with permission only
Smooth Creeping Bush Clover © William Britten use with permission only

Smooth Creeping Bush Clover (Lespedeza repens) is a trailing, ground-hugging, member of the pea family that adds a beautiful accent to the dry woods of summer.

The pictures here were taken along Porters Creek Trail in the Greenbrier section of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Please stop in and visit me to see the complete display of Smoky Mountain Photography at the William Britten Gallery in Gatlinburg, TN.

Smooth Creeping Bush Clover © William Britten use with permission only
Smooth Creeping Bush Clover © William Britten use with permission only
Smoky Mountain Butterflies

Smoky Mountain Butterflies

Butterfly and Mountain Mint © William Britten use with permission only
Butterfly and Mountain Mint © William Britten use with permission only

If you drive into some of the less traveled areas of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, such as Greenbrier or Tremont, eventually the road turns to gravel, and in summer you will start to see large quantities of butterflies. So many that sometimes it’s hard to keep from running them over.

The swallowtail above is feasting on a Mountain Mint. And the butterfly below kept landing on my camera lens. I finally told him that he wouldn’t get his picture taken if he didn’t get in front of the camera, so he obligingly landed on a leaf and posed quietly.

Smoky Mountain Butterfly © William Britten use with permission only
Smoky Mountain Butterfly © William Britten use with permission only

The photo below is another species feeding on Mountain Mint.

Please stop in and visit me to see the complete display of Smoky Mountain Photography at the William Britten Gallery in Gatlinburg, TN.

Butterfly and Mountain Mint © William Britten use with permission only
Butterfly and Mountain Mint © William Britten use with permission only
Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: Great Blue Lobelia

Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: Great Blue Lobelia

Great Blue Lobelia © William Britten use with permission only
Great Blue Lobelia © William Britten use with permission only
Great Blue Lobelia © William Britten use with permission only
Great Blue Lobelia © William Britten use with permission only

Great Blue Lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica) is a tall, single-stalk summer wildflower, blooming during late-summer in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

It favors moist streambanks and roadsides. The pictures here were taken along the Greenbrier Road.

The Latin name siphilitica refers to the use of this plant as a treatment for syphilis.

Please stop in and visit me to see the complete display of Smoky Mountain Photography at the William Britten Gallery in Gatlinburg, TN.

Great Blue Lobelia © William Britten use with permission only
Great Blue Lobelia © William Britten use with permission only

Signup for our occasional newsletter

Enter your details below and we'll keep you updated via email.

Content Protected Using Blog Protector By: PcDrome.