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Home  Plant Profiles & Photos Native Hot Spots Slideshow: Mountains of NC including the Smokys in the Summer

Summer Native Plant Safari to the Mountains of NC including the Great Smokys

NJ and NC share the Appalachian mountains with piedmont and highlands geologic regions. NJ & NC have many of the same plants. However, some of our NJ plants grow in abundance in NC, and some plants that only the lucky ones can see in NJ, can be seen commonly in NC. Also, you don't get pricked by Japanese barberries, wineberries, and multifora rose in NC! We have been to NC twice in the summer, July 2018 and August 2022.

Since we are focussing on NC we are starting with its namesake flower: Carolina Lily (Lilium michauxii). We were fortunate to see these (Aug) at the end of their blooming season. Gorges State Park, NC. Not native to NJ
Carolina Lily is very similar to our Turk's cap lily. The Carolina Lily, as seen below, does not have the green star on the inside.
There were many large populations of Turk's cap lily (Lilium superbum) blooming during our July trip. These are along the appalachian trail near clingmans dome road (Smokies, NC)
Turk's cap lily (Lilium superbum) shows the green star inside the flower.
Yellow fringed orchid (Platanthera ciliaris). We found (Aug) a big patch on the roadside in Gorges St. Pk. They were also seen along other trails/roads. It is S2 'imperiled' in NJ. See our 'Plant Profiles & Photos page'
Cranefly orchid (Tipularia discolor) is native to both NJ & NC. However, this plant is infrequent in NJ, but we have seen it at many locations in NC. Photo taken along the rainbow falls trail in Gorges St. Pk.(Aug)
Basil/White bergamot (Monarda clinopodia) is possibly extirpated in NJ but they can be seen blooming in July in NC. Note the purple dots on the petals. These are not the same as the white culivars of scarlet beebam (Monarda didyma).
Populations seen along the balsam mountain/Heintooga ridge roads of the Smokys, NC.
Lots of scarlet beebalm (Monarda didyma) July blooming along the balsam mountain/Heintooga ridge roads of the Smokys, and many other areas in NC.
Lesser Purple fringed orchid (Platanthera psycodes) was flowering July in a wet seep at the base of the ledge in the Clingman's Dome parking lot. Flowers were past prime. It is S2 'imperiled' in NJ and S3 'vulnerable' in NC
Here is a Great Smoky special (July). Rugel's ragwort (Rugelia nudicaulis). My first impression was 'ugly' but later found that it is rare and only found in the Smokys at high altitudes (above 4000 ft).
Rugel's ragwort (Rugelia nudicaulis). It is in the Asteraceae family with only disc florets, there are no ray florets. These were found along the Appalachian trail near Clingman's Dome Road.
Fly poison (Amianthium muscaetoxicum) - S2 'imperiled' in NJ and blooms in July and was seen at some of overlooks along the Heintooga road, Smoky, NC.
Fly poison (Amianthium muscaetoxicum) fruit in Aug.
A tiny saxifrage clinging in the crevices in side of the ledge in the Clingman's dome parking lot. July & Aug. (Saxifraga michauxii)
Appalachian milkwort (Polygala curtissii). Blooming Aug in Gorges St Pk, Bearwallow valley trail.
Filmy angelica (Angelica triquinata) - very common on roadsides and trailsides at high elevations. It is known to be intoxicating to insects and may be poisonous to humans.
Cutleaf Coneflower (Rudbeckia laciniata). Large populations of these flowers were in bloom - roadsides, trailsides and overlooks bringing color and cheer to passersby.
Pinesap (Monotropa hypopitys). The plant seems to be native to almost everywhere (almost every state) but difficult to find anywhere! In NJ S3 'imperiled' and NC S4 'Apparently Secure'. Pisgah National Forest, Cradle of Forestry.
Blooming in Aug, Joe Pye Weed stands tall above the other plants and waves in the breeze. Very common along roadsides and trailsides and at overlooks.
Downy rattlesnake plantain (orchid) Goodyera pubescens. Many were found blooming in July & August.
Downy rattlesnake plantain (orchid) Goodyera pubescens.
Blooming in Aug, Photos from Grandfather mountain trail, NC
Here is a fern that climbs like a vine: American Climbing Fern (Lygodium palmatum). It is S2 'imperiled' in NJ and S3 'vulnerable' in NC. This healthy population we found in the Bryson City section of the Smokys.
American Climbing Fern (Lygodium palmatum). The fern is climbing upward. We have seen this fern in NJ in one location.
There are so many waterfalls in NC. Here is one to imagine the cool spray and the sound of the rushing water. They are good locations for water loving plants. Photo: Dry Falls, Nantahala National Forest, near Highlands, NC.
There are so many views of the awesome mountains. View from Clingman's Dome overlook
So many places to just commune with nature and its creator. Gorges St. Pk. Bearwallow falls trail. Hope you enjoyed the slide show.

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