Native Plants

Western North Carolina is covered with plants indigenous to the Appalachian Mountains. Here is a short list of the plants found throughout the Linville Falls area.

Flowering Plants

Dogwood Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida)
This small tree features North Carolina’s state flower. The white “petals” are actually modified leaves called bracts that surround its small yellow blossoms. Dogwood is not only beautiful in the spring when it is in bloom, but also in the fall when the leaves turn a striking red.  March-April
Painted trillium Painted Trillium (Trillium undulatum)
This common flower, found in forested areas, is best described as three white petals shadowed by three green leaves.  March-April (Look for the Painted Trillium on the forest floor in spring.)
Bluets Bluets (Houstonia caerulea)
Also known as “Quaker ladies standing by the garden gate,” these small blue flowers are often found growing in patches in meadows and woodlands.  April-July
Ivy Mountain Laurel (Kalmia latifolia)
A member of the heath family, this showy plant tolerates shade and does well in wooded areas. It features clustered white and pink blooms and can be found throughout Western North Carolina.  May-June
Galax2 Galax (Galax urceolata)
This plant is unique to the southern Appalachians. In the summer months, small white flowers bloom on long, thin stalk. The smooth round leaves turn red in the winter.  May-July
Rhoderdendren flower Rhododendron (Rhododendron minus)
The large flower clusters, ranging in color from lavender to white, are striking when viewed next to the evergreen leaves. Several varieties of this hearty plant can be found growing throughout the mountains.  April-July

Trees

red maple3 Red Maple (Acer rubrum)
The bright green leaves have three to five lobes. They turn a brilliant red in the fall and produce buds on their red twigs that turn to small red flowers in the spring. The Silver Maple (Acer saccharinum) is also found in the area. It is a rapidly-growing tree that features five-lobed leaves. The dark green leaves turn a rich brown color in the fall.
Sassafrass2 Sassafras (Sassafras albidum)
The two-lobed leaves are often descrbed as mittens because of their shape. The tree also produces three-lobed and elliptical leaves. It has a distinctive smell, small yellow blossoms, and clusters of blue fruits on the end of bright red stalks.
Tulip Yellow Poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera)
This common tree has green four-lobed leaves. It is sometimes referred to as the “Tulip Tree” because of its tulip-shaped blossoms.
yellow_buckeye Yellow Buckeye (Aesculus flava)
The buckeye is identified by clusters of yellow flowers and leaves that consist of five elliptic leaflets. The yellow buckeye is characterized by capsules that contain two to three seeds. The seeds are poisonous if ingested but are believed to bring good luck if carried in our pocket.
Witchhazel Witch-Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana)
Commonly found near streams and rivers, this shrub produces small, yellow flowers in the fall and winter. The leaves grow in alternating directions from the stem.  It occasionally grows to the size of a small tree.

Photographs courtesy of Mark Haskett, Western Carolina University Photographic Services.  This information was initially included in “The Natural Diversity of Linville Falls.”

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