Light pink flowers of mountain laurel
Mountain laurel blooms in early summer.

Photo by Kristina Plaas

Rosebay Rhododendron
Rosebay Rhododendron

Elevation and north-south orientation can make a big difference in weather conditions and what is blooming. The Parkway's elevation ranges from 649 feet at Virginia's James River to 6,047 feet south of Mount Pisgah in North Carolina.


Catawba Rhododendron (Rhododendron catawbiense)

A medium shrub with pink to purple flowers growing above 3000 feet on exposed ridges. June-Early July. Catawba rhododendron is the purple variety that blooms from early June around the Peaks of Otter in Virginia to the third week of June at Craggy Gardens in North Carolina. Any time between these dates there are spots of the variety in bloom.


Rosebay Rhododendron (Rhododendron maximum)

Also called White Rhododendron. A large shrub with white to pink flowers, over a wide range of elevations. June-July.

Flame Azalea (Rhododendron calendulaceum) A medium shrub with bright orange to red flowers. Azaleas are in the rhododendron family. June-July


Wild Hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens) A medium shrub with large clusters of white flowers. May-August


Mountain Laurel (Kalmia latifolia) A medium shrub with pink flowers. June-July


Pinxter Flower (Rhododendron nudiflorum) A medium shrub with pink honeysuckle-like flowers, common at lower elevations. April-May


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1 minute, 52 seconds

Of the over 1250 species of flowering plants on the Parkway these four shrubs get the most attention! Join Ranger Jonathan to learn more about some of the Parkway's most popular wildflowers.

Goat's Beard

Spring Wildflowers

April into May is the best time for spring wildflowers. May apple, trillium, bloodroot, Jack-in-the-pulpit, lady slippers, bleeding heart, and firepink make their appearance in spring. Elevation affects bloom time, with cooler temperatures delaying bloom season by several weeks at higher elevations.


Fire Pink (Silene virginica) This 6-20 inch plant has bright red flowers up to 1-1/2 inches wide. April-June


Goat's Beard (Aruncus dioicus) 3-5 feet tall with flower plumes 3-5 inches wide and 6-10 inches long. May-June


Bluets (Houstonia sp.) 3-6 inches tall with many small 4-petal flowers, light to dark blue. Bluets sometimes grow in large beds. May-August


Trillium (Trillium grandiflorum) The largest of several trilliums found along the parkway, grows to about 15 inches.

Trilliums have 3 leaves and a single 3-petal flower. April-May


Birdfoot Violet (Viola pedata) 4-10 inches tall, bluish-purple flower. March-June

Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) about 2 feet tall, nodding red and yellow flower. May-July
Mountain Laurel

Summer Wildflowers

Bee Balm (Monarda didyma)Also called Oswego Tea,2-5 feet tall with bright red 2-inch flowers. Wild Bergamot is similar, but is pink.July-August

Sun Drops (Oenothera fruticosa) 1-2 feet tall, yellow 4-petal flower. June-July

Evening Primrose (Oenothera biennis) 3-5 feet tall, yellow 4-petal flower. June-July

Phlox (Phlox sp.) 2-6 feet tall, magenta-pink flowers. July-October

Touch-me-not (Impatiens species) 3-6 feet tall, nodding yellow or orange flower. July-August

Tall Bellflower (Campanula americana) 2-6 feet tall, blue, 5-petal flower. July-August

White Snakeroot (Eupatorium rugosum) 3-5 feet tall, bright white flower heads. July-Sept

Dense Blazing Star (Liatris spicata) 2-4 feet tall, rose-purple flowered spike. August-Sept

Goldenrod (Solidago sp.) about 3 feet tall, golden-yellow spikes or plumes. August-Sept

Ox Eye Daisy (Chrysanthemum leucanthemum)1-3 feet tall, white petals, yellow center.

Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta) 3-6 feet tall, yellow petals, black center.

Tall Coneflower (Rudbeckia laciniata) 2-3 feet tall, drooping yellow petals, green center.

Coreopsis (Coreopsis major) 2-3 feet tall, golden-yellow petals, green center.

Jerusalem Artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus) 5-10 feet tall, yellow petals, yellow center.

Aster (Aster sp.) 2-5 feet tall with many small flowers; blue, purple, or white petals.

Turks-Cap Lily (Lilium superbum) 6 to 10 feet tall with flowers 2-4 inches wide with a green star at center. The Carolina Lily (L. michauxii) is similar but lacks the green star and bares fewer flowers. July-August.

Last updated: June 17, 2021

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