Sunday, July 15, 2012

Summer Flowers In The Mountains

My recent trip to the mountains was obviously too much to cover in one blog entry! For those of you keeping track, this is part 3 of my efforts to communicate what I found there in late June. Part one was about the great laurel, Rhododendron maximum, which was apparently in the throes of a “super bloom” this year. Part two was about my hike to Gregory Bald to see the famous hybrid swarm of native azaleas there. This is my last installment and basically covers everything else.

Beebalm, Monarda didyma
While it might seem odd to write about plants in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (TN/NC) in a blog about using Georgia native plants, one must realize that plants recognize no state boundaries and many of these same plants are found in Georgia. Trips to natural areas always inspire my sense of creativity by observing how nature has arranged them. I also get a chance to see how well they flourish in natural environments. For example, I saw some amazing large groups of red beebalm (Monarda didyma) on sunny roadsides throughout the park.

Fern in a log, can I recreate this?
Nature's original dry stream bed

Plants that I saw which are already familiar to me, besides the beebalm, included turk's cap lily (Lilium superbum), jewelweed (Impatiens spp., both I. capensis and I. pallida), tall phlox (Phlox paniculata), beetleweed (Galax urceolata), drooping fetterbush (Leucothoe fontanesiana), and a lot of partridgeberry (Mitchella repens) and Solomon's plume (Maianthemum racemosum), just to name a few.

Lilium superbum
Photo by Sara

Impatiens pallida

I also had a chance to see some plants that I haven't seen growing in the wild before. These included the Blue Ridge St. John's wort (Hypericum mitchellianum), the native southern bush honeysuckle (Diervilla sessilifolia), an unusual blueberry with gorgeous flowers (Vaccinium erythrocarum, known as southern mountain cranberry), red spruce (Picea rubens) and Fraser fir (Abies fraseri), two new species of Viburnum (V. lantanoides and V. lentago), Michaux's saxifraga (Saxifraga michauxii), mountain ash (Sorbus americana), and teaberry (Gaultheria procumbens).
Diervilla sessilifolia

Hypericum mitchellianum

Vaccinium erythrocarum

Abies fraseri

Saxifraga michauxii

Viburnum lantanoides

If you are interested in exploring the trails in the Smokies, a great guide for hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the one by Kevin Adams. It covers 82 different trails and gives great directions and extensive descriptions.

 A good website for timely wildflower reports (what is blooming now) in the Smokies is here.


  1. I noticed that the yellow jewel weed always seemed to be growing at higher altitudes from the orange, did it seem like that to you?
    I attempted to transplant some yellow seedlings on year w/o success...

    That lily is spectacular!

    1. Yes, I only see the yellow one in the mountains too. That lily was a great find - growing on the side of the road in a wet area, just perfect habitat for it.

  2. Hmmm. I've seen both the yellow and the orange in Transylvania county, occasionally side-by-side. ??? One of my favorite plants!