Wildflowers 101: White snakeroot and mountain gentian

mountain gentian

Have you ever heard of “milk sickness”?  What could something like that possibly have to do with wildflowers found in Great Smoky Mountains National Park? Read on to find out.  The first wildflower we shall examine is white snakeroot. White snakeroot generally grows from one to four feet tall, and its white blooms appear from July through […]

Wildflowers 101: Milkweed

Four-leaf milkweed. Photo by Tom Harrington.

Who does not enjoy seeing butterflies? Some visitors from Europe who are visiting the national park have told me that they no longer see butterflies in their countries. About this time each year, several people come to Cades Cove to take part in monarch butterfly tagging. The monarch’s survival depends on the milkweed plant. Monarchs weigh […]

Plan ahead for the Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage

For more than seven decades, the Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage in Great Smoky Mountains National Park has brought participants into the park to experience the wonders of spring in the Smokies and learn about the natural world from leading experts. The 73rd Annual Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage will be April 26–29, 2023. Photo provided by Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage.

Soon the long, sultry days of summer will be behind us, and autumn will be on the horizon. But some nature lovers in the Smokies may already be enthusiastically awaiting spring and a decades-old event that celebrates the remarkable diversity of wildflowers found in our region. For 72 years, the Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage in Great […]

Wildflowers 101: Three blue flowers

Story and images by Tom Harrington If you have an interest in wildflowers, perhaps you have noticed how many flowers are blue in color. The flowers we’ll examine today have small blue blooms. To start, did you know that blue-eyed grass is not a grass? It is related to the iris species. The plant is […]

Wildflowers 101: Creeping phlox and wild geranium

Please remember that picking plants is prohibited in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Additionally, even some plants with traditional folk uses can have toxic properties if improperly prepared or used. Today I’ll discuss things “creeping” and “wild”—creeping phlox and wild geranium.  First, let’s look at creeping phlox. This plant grows up to 12 inches tall, […]

Wildflowers 101: Vasey’s trillium and purple wake robin

Story and images by Tom Harrington Some of the favorite wildflowers found in Great Smoky Mountains National Park are the trilliums, of which there are nine species that grow in the park. In this issue, let’s examine two trilliums whose blooms are often described as being maroon, red, or purple in color: Vasey’s trillium and purple […]

Wildflowers 101: Trillium

Painted trillium

My favorite trillium is the painted trillium. This plant grows from 8 to 12 inches tall and has a white bloom with a red blaze that circles the bloom near the base. April and May are the months in which this plant normally blooms. The painted trillium is not commonly found. It has been my […]