This is the Blue Ridge Parkway Wildflower Report for the second half of May, 2014. May is often the best month for wildflowers along the Parkway, with elevation and North-South orientation providing a wonderful variety in what can be seen blooming along the road or on the trails. Ground-covering wildflowers like Skunk Cabbage and Mayapple are visible. Along the roadside, look for Bloodroot, Firepink, Trillium, and Bleeding-heart.
In Virginia at the Northern end of the Parkway near Humpback rocks, we have reports of blooming Dogwoods, Apple Trees, Virginia Waterleaf, Trillium, Bloodroot, Mayapple, Large-flower Sellwort, Smooth Yellow Violet, Star Chickweed, Nettle Parsnip, Glasswort, Wood Anemone, Spiderwort, and early Saxophrage.
Further south near Peaks of Otter visitor center, blooming Pinxter and Flame Azalea can be seen.
Rhododendrons and Flame Azalea are blooming up to the 3,500-foot range in elevation throughout the Northern region of the Parkway.
Near Roanoke south onto the plateau, there are Flame Azalea blooming, with Bloodroot, Trillium, and Columbine commonly seen along the roadsides.
In North Carolina, Trillium are blooming everywhere. Some good spots to see them are at the Moses Cone Manor House, under the Linn Cove Viaduct, and on the Beacon Heights trails. Huge patches can be seen around Milepost 320 on both sides of the road. The Carolina rhododendron is blooming throughout the area, with great displays along the cliffs between Milepost 319 and 323. Magnolia trees are also blooming in the area.
From Craggy Gardens to Asheville we are seeing Bellwort, Solomon’s Seal, Dwarf Crested Iris, Wild Geranium, Violets, Jack in the Pulpit, False Hellebore, Flame Azalea, and some large patches of Trillium.
From Asheville to Mt. Pisgah, Mountain Laurel, Flame Azalea, Trillium, Bluets, Robin’s Plantain, Yellow Ragwort, Bird’s-foot Violets, Pinxter, Wild Cherry, Blackberries, Beardtongue, Pink Lady Slippers, Pink Nettle, and Hawkweed have all been seen.
It is always a good idea to have an extra jacket and a few emergency supplies in the trunk of your car when visiting the mountains.