Some of the most beautiful views I’ve seen have been on along the Blue Ridge Parkway and if I’m being completely honest, more often than not it was the beautiful flora that took my breath away. With over 450 miles of beauty that spans from North Carolina through Virginia, the Blue Ridge Parkway weaves its way through one of America’s most beautiful landscapes.
Every year, millions of visitors spend time exploring the scenic byway that is world-renowned for its biodiversity. All across the Appalachian landscape, the parkway offers an extraordinary glimpse of the area’s flora and fauna.
Flowers of the Blue Ridge Parkway
Catawba Rhododendron (Rhododendron catawbiense)
Native to southern Appalachian mountains, from Virginia through Georgia, it is found in both Virginia and North Carolina along the parkway.
Common Names: Catawba rhododendron, Mountain rosebay, Purple rhododendron
Wildlife Value: Nectar from the flowers attracts hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees.
Rosebay Rhododendron (Rhododendron maximum)
Common Names: Rosebay rhododendron, White laurel
Blooms: Summer through Late summer
Wildlife Value: This plant is relatively resistant to damage from deer and proves winter and extreme weather coverage. Hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees are attracted to its blooms.
Flame azalea (Rhododendron calendulaceum)
Blooms: Spring, summer
Wild Hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens)
Common Names: Smooth hydrangea, Wild hydrangea
Wildlife Value: Relatively resistant to damage from deer, its flowers are attractive to butterflies and other insects and songbirds eat the plant’s seeds.
Mountain Laurel (Kalmia latifolia)
Common Names: Mountain laurel, calico bush, ivy bush, mountain ivy, spoonwood
Wildlife Value: Hummingbirds and butterflies are attracted to the flowers. Although the foilage is toxic to domestic livestock, white-tailed deer browse the leaves and twigs during the winter and early spring.
Pinxter Flower (Rhododendron periclymenoides)
Common Names: Pinxter flower, Pinxterbloom azalea, Wild azalea
Blooms: Early spring/spring
Wildlife Value: This plant has a pretty low resistance to damage from deer. Hummingbirds and swallowtail butterflies are attracted to the blooms.
Fire Pink (Silene virginica)
Common Names: Fire pink, Indian pink
Wildlife Value: Fire Pink is moderately resistant to deer. Flowers are attractive to hummingbirds, butterflies, and other pollinators. Songbirds eat the seeds.
Bluets (Houstonia caerulea)
Common Names: Common bluets
Blooms: Spring to early summer
Though most of the flowers on our list bloom in spring and summer, a drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway is gorgeous no matter what the season! As you make your way from Virginia through North Carolina your drive on one of America’s most scenic roads is sure to be one you remember. We tend to pack a picnic, leave our watches at home, and just drive. Sometimes the best trips are the ones