Hiking Info For The Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Monday, February 6, 2012
Wildflowers and Grasses of GSMNP
Peak wildflower season is April, but the Cades Cove's open meadows hold blooms from spring to fall. Mountain laurel, rhododendron, and flame azalea attract visitors throughout spring and summer. Mountain laurel blooms in May, followed by rhododendron in late June and early July. In late June people come from around the country to view Gregory Bald's azaleas.
In the open areas, such as Cades Cove, other flowers are more common. Purple phacelia bloom in May often accompanied by blue-eyed grass. May apple and yellow trillium do better in the shade. By June, European red clover comes into bloom, offering a tasty dessert for local deer. Daisies, Queen Anne's lace, and, later, Black-eyed Susans color the year longest days. Butterfly weed glows bright orange in July. Some other common flowers in Park lowlands (and blooming dates) are: sweet-joe-pye weed (July-September), yellow ragwort (May-June), hawkweed (April-July), yellow fringed orchid (July-September), and trumpet vine (August).
An invasive, exotic grass, fescue, dominates Cades Cove. Other common grasses and sedges are velvet grass and broom sedge. The Park works to increase native grasses percentages. Recent studies show elimination exotic grasses leads to greater plant and animal diversity.