A Guide to the Most Spectacular Wildflowers in the Blue Ridge Mountains

Wildflowers in the Blue Ridge Mountains in the springtime are stunning, blooming along creeks, hiking trails, scenic drives, and mountain tops.  Spring wildflowers are one the top attractions in the Blue Ridge and Great Smoky Mountains, and visitors from all over the world travel here to see them.   

But how do you recognize wildflowers and know what to look for?  If you’re like us, you not only want to see them know what you're looking at as well, especially when photographing them.

Here are our top 10 wildflowers found in the Spring in the Blue Ridge Mountains.  Be sure to bring this guide along with you on your adventures and see how many you can find!   Be sure to post about them in our Facebook group!

Trillium (Trillium spp.) 

Trillium Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Trilliums (also known as wake robins or trinity flowers) are one of the most popular spring flowers in the Blue Ridge and Great Smoky Mountains.  They are found in various colors (white, pink, deep red, yellow, and green) and sizes ranging from 8 to 18 inches tall.

They are known for their characteristics of having three petals for each flower with a maroon center sitting in the middle of three leaves.   Trilliums are often found in shaded moist but well-drained areas.

These beautiful flowers are found in late March to early May.

Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis)

Bloodroot Wildflower

Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) flowers grow on slender stems and consist of pure white petals surrounding a bright yellow center. They typically grow to a height of 6-12 inches with distinctive features, lobed leaves that resemble the shape of a human hand. 

Bloodroot prefers partial to full shade and moist, well-drained soil like forests and along stream banks.

They typically bloom in early to mid-spring April and May.

Check our  other Spring Guides

Wild Geranium (Geranium maculatum) 

Wild Geranium

Wild Geranium (also known as the Spotted Cranesbill) are lavender or pink in color having five petals. The petals reach 1-2 inches across and have delicate veining in the petals which gives them more appeal. 

They grow in clumps and are usually found in the meadows or the forest edges where the soil is dry to moist. They can get 1-2 feet in size and bloom and bloom in April and May.

Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica) 

Virginia Bluebells(also known as Roanoke bells or Virginia cowslip) are a common flower that begin as pink then grow into a blue-purple color with a trumpet shape the size of a penny and grow in clusters with a light sweet smell.

Their foliage is oval-shaped and has the texture of velvet.  

Their average height is 12 to 24 inches and their width of 12 to 18 inches.  They can be found in moist woodland areas or along streams and rivers. These wildflowers bloom in mid to late April to May for about four to six weeks. 

Dutchman's Breeches (Dicentra cucullaria)  

Dutchman's Breaches

Photo by Lorie Shaull

The name "Dutchman's Breeches" refers to the shape of the flower that resembles the pants worn by Dutchmen in the 18th century.

Dutchman's Breeches has delicate, fern-like leaves that emerge from a bulb in early spring. The leaves are light green and have a feathery texture. The flowers of Dutchman's Breeches hang in rows on long, thin stems and are white or pink in color. They are uniquely shaped like tiny, upside-down pantaloons, with two petals that resemble legs and a third petal that forms a triangular "breeches" shape.

The plant usually grows to about 6 to 12 inches in height.

These wildflowers are found in moist woodlands, meadows, and stream banks. They prefer soils that are rich in organic matter and grow best in partial to full shade.

Dutchman's Breeches bloom in early spring, usually from March to April. The flowers last for about two weeks before the foliage dies back in the summer. 

Trout Lily (Erythronium americanum) 

Trout Lily

The Trout Lily is a yellow single flower, having petals and sepals that are bent backward exposing the stamens (male fertilizing organ).  Each stem has one flower each growing 3 to 6 inches in height and has mottled brownish leaves that resemble a trout’s back which is where they get their name. 

The Trout Lily grows in part to fully shaded areas, moist to well-drained areas along riversides and forests.

They bloom mid-spring in May.

Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum) 

Mayapple Wildflower

Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum) is known for its umbrella-shaped leaves and striking white flowers.  It typically grows to a height of 1-1.5 feet and has large, deeply lobed leaves that resemble the shape of an umbrella.

The flowers themselves are on a single stem in the center of the leaves and consist of one to two white petals surrounding a bright yellow center.

Mayapple prefers partial to full shade and moist, well-drained soil like in the forests and along stream banks.

They typically bloom in early to mid-spring April to May

Wild Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis)

Wild Columbine

Wild Columbine (also known as Red Columbine), is a bell-shaped blooming flower coming in shades of mostly red and yellow centers.  Each flower blooms on a long slender stem having five petals that grow backward.  

It grows 1-3 feet in height and has deeply lobed fern-like leaves making it a wonderful flower for hummingbirds.   Wild Columbine likes partially shaded areas and well-drained soil. 

It blooms in late April to early June.

Blue-eyed Grass (Sisyrinchium spp.)

Blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium spp.) is a small wildflower known for its vibrant blue or purple blooms and grass-like foliage.

The blue-eyed grass grows to a height of 6-18 inches and features narrow, grass-like leaves that can grow from a few inches to a foot.  The delicate flowers grow on slender stems and have 6 petals in shades of blue or purple, with a yellow center. 

This is merely a "grass" in name because it is an Iris family member with linear, flattened grass-like foliage that grows in thick, tufted clumps. The green blooming stems are flattened and extensively winged.  

Blue-eyed Grass naturally grows in low woodlands, along river and creeks, damp meadows, and moist roadside ditches.

It typically blooms from late spring to early summer April to May

Jack-In-The-Pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum)

Jack in a Pulpit

Jack-in-the-Pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum) is also known as Indian turnip, bog onion, or wild turnip. 

The plant has a unique appearance that resembles a preacher in a pulpit, which is where it gets its name. The "pulpit" is a hood that encloses a spadix or the "preacher" that stands erect in the center. The flower is typically green or brown with white or purple stripes, while the spadix is a greenish-yellow color. 

Jack-in-the-Pulpit can be found in damp and shady forests, wetlands, and meadows it grows up to 1 to 2 feet tall. They thrive in moist, well-drained soils and require some shade to grow.

They usually grow in the spring from April to June.  Once the plant has matured, it produces a single flower that can last for up to three weeks.

Spring Beauty (Claytonia virginica)

Spring Beauty Wildflower

Spring Beauty is a wildflower that is a small flower that grows up to 6 inches tall. It has hairless stems with narrow, lance-shaped leaves. The leaves are green and slightly glossy, and they usually have a purplish tint at the base.

The Flowers of Spring Beauty are small, star-shaped flowers that grow in clusters at the top of the stem. The petals are usually pink or white with darker pink veins. The flowers are usually half an inch in diameter and have a sweet fragrance.

Spring Beauty likes to grow in woodlands, meadows, and open fields. They prefer moist, well-drained soils and are most commonly found in areas with partial shade.  

Spring Beauty blooms in the early spring, usually from March to May, depending on the climate.  The flowers only last for a few weeks before they start to die off. 

Blue Ridge Mountains Wildflower FAQ

Here are some commonly asked questions about Blue Ridge Mountains Wildflowers, and answers for you.

What kind of flowers are in the Blue Ridge Mountains?

There are many different flowers that can be found in the Blue Ridge Mountains during the spring and summer months, including trillium, bloodroot, wild geranium, wild columbine, and mayapple also some wildflowers are mountain laurel, rhododendron, flame azalea, and butterfly weed.

What are the spring flowers of the Blue Ridge Mountains?

Some of the spring flowers of the Blue Ridge Mountains include Dogwood, Redbud, Trillium, Virginia BlueBells, Redroot, Wild Columbine, Spring Beauty, Dutchman’s Breeches, Jack-in-the-Pulpit and Trout Lily.

When is the best time to see the spring flowers in the Blue Ridge Mountains? 

The best time to see the spring flowers is usually in the months of March to May depending on the elevation as well as the climate

What are the pink flowers on the Blue Ridge Parkway?

Although there are many pink flowers along the Blue Ridge here are some of the most common ones to be found, including pink lady's slipper orchids, pink turtleheads, pink coneflowers, and mountain laurel. 

What are typical the first flowers in the spring? 

Depending on location and climate usually trillium (Trillium nivale), harbinger-of-spring (Erigenia bulbosa), and bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis). 

Other early spring flowers in the region include hepatica (Hepatica americana), spring beauty (Claytonia virginica), and trout lily (Erythronium americanum) 

Where can I find spring flowers in the Blue Ridge?

You can find spring flowers in both the local and state parks like Shenandoah National Park, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway, and Pisgah National Forest.

Are there rare or endangered spring flowers in the Blue Ridge Mountains?

Yes, there are several including including Virginia spiraea, mountain spleenwort, and Appalachian blue violet.

About the author

Jenn Deane is co-owner of Blue Ridge Mountain Life. She has spent more than 20 years in these majestic Blue Ridge Mountains. She loves wildlife, hiking, and waterfalls. Jenn co-founded Blue Ridge Mountain Life along with her husband Larry. She loves creating travel guides to help others discover and enjoy the Blue Ridge Mountains where she lives.

Jenn is also an avid hiker, photographer, and videographer. She really enjoys interacting and helping the more than 500,000 people per month that follow Blue Ridge Mountain Life.


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