Shenandoah National Park Wildflowers

Wildflowers abound in Shenandoah National Park providing a beautiful and varied display throughout the growing season. The display begins in early Spring (March) as the purple, pink and white flowers of violets ( Viola spp.), hepatica ( Hepatica nobilis var . obtusa ), and bloodroot ( Sanguinaria canadensis ) push their way through the forest leaf litter. As the days continue to warm, the small blue and yellow flowers of bluets or Quaker ladies ( Houstonia caerulea ) soon line many trails, while the large flowered trillium ( Trillium grandiflorum ), pink ladyslippers ( Cypripedium acaule ), and geraniums ( Geranium maculatum ) appear within the forest. Once June arrives, Summer flowers such as columbine ( Aquilegia canadensis ), milkweed ( Asclepias spp.), nodding onion ( Allium cernuum ), ox eye daisy ( Leucanthemum vulgare ), and turkscap lily ( Lilium superbum ) begin to mature and flower. At this same time the yellow and orange flowers of touch-me-nots ( Impatiens spp.) can be seen along streams and near springs. The Park's growing season concludes with a strong display of black cohosh ( Cimicifuga racemosa ), goldenrod ( Solidago spp.), and woodland sunflowers (Helianthus spp.) into the Fall.

Wildflowers comprise 862 species, or greater than half of the 1376 vascular plant species found in Shenandoah National park. Almost 20% of these species are in the aster (Asteraceae) family. The next most abundantly represented wildflower plant families are the pea (Fabaceae), lily (Lilaceae), mint (Lamiaceae) and mustard (Brassicaceae) families. The rich diversity of wildflowers in the park is particularly evident in spring at the lower elevations along streams such as South River, Hughes River, Rose River, and Mill Prong. Later in the season the banks of Skyline drive, and the Big Meadows area, are great places to see Summer and Fall wildflowers.

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