Spring Wildflowers in the southern Appalachians


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Early spring before most trees have put on leaves is actually a very good time to view many flowers in our area as they explode in great profusion, taking advantage of the ample sunlight and thankful for the warmer days. Each year climactic conditions will have been optimum for one or another species, resulting in spectacular displays. Some sunny hillsides will be covered with one or two species that number in the hundreds or thousands of individuals. The white blooms of Large Flowered Trillium are especially easy to spot against their lush green leaves, growing up hillsides, particularly near small streams. At slightly higher and drier locations there will be many Wake Robins (Trillium erectum). Other trilliums will also be out, but not in such large numbers.


Yellow Ladyslipper
Cypripedium calceolus var. pubescens

Somewhat less conspicuous, although often very plentiful on the sunny slopes will be Larkspur in purple or white, Wild Geranium, Mayapple and Dwarf Crested Iris. Many other flowers will also making a show though in more modest numbers; Jack In The Pulpit, Foam Flower, Indian Cucumber Root, Bellwort, Solomon's Seal, Columbine, Firepink, and Meadow Rue.

This is also the time of year to find our most elaborate Orchids--the Pink and Yellow Ladyslippers, or Moccassin Flowers. All of our orchids are rare and should never be disturbed. There numbers have suffered in the past because of their beauty and usefulness, but they grow only n very specific areas where they have a symbiotic relationship with particular fungus in the soil. They won't grow in your yard and the flowers won't last long if they're picked, so satisfy yourself with taking a photograph please. The Pink Ladyslippers like to grow in the company of pine trees. Another very pretty, but somewhat less conspicuous orchid is the Showy Orchid, only about 6 inches tall and prefering a slightly damper neighborhood.

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