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.
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.
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.