6 Wild Facts About the Smoky Mountain Wild Flowers
The Smoky Mountains are known for the beautiful wildflowers that call them home. These brightly colored plants blanket the area every spring and create an unbeatably stunning scene.
However, there are much more to these Smoky Mountain wild flowers than just looking pretty. Don’t believe us? Check out the 6 shocking facts we found below.
(See Related: 8 Ways the Smoky Mountains Are Different From the Rest of the World)
Intoxicating to Insects
Sure the flowers are pretty to look at, but did you know that some of the flowers have a peculiar effect on some of the insects found inside the Great Smoky Mountains, especially the filmy angelica. This unique Smoky Mountain wild flower produces a certain chemical that is essentially intoxicating to all the insects that visit it.
Scientifically, this serves the purpose of making sure that none of the plant’s pollen is wasted when the bee or butterfly lands on a different flower. However, to the common observer, it just looks like the insect has visited the local moonshine still one too many times.
Used to Catch Witches
We know, it’s not quite Halloween just yet, so you make thing it’s a little too early to start talking about witches, but the truth is that there was once a time where the folks that lived in the Smoky Mountains truly believed that with a little witch hobble, a shrub that grows in the higher elevation, they could catch a with.
The trap begins to form when the branches of the plant begin to tangle with one another, and the effect is increased when the heart-shaped leaves touch the ground and begin to form new roots, thus creating a firmly arched loop.
We at Visit My Smokies can’t for sure say that any real witches were caught with this type of trap, but we are just a Smoky Mountain hiker or two has fallen victim to a stumble.
Double as a Thermometer
Have you ever been hiking in the Smoky Mountains and felt as if the air was just a bit more chilly than you were expecting, but didn’t have a way to check and see what the temperature was? Well, as it turns out, one of the best ways to tell the temperature when you are in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is to look to the nearest rhododendron bush and checking the leaves.
Whenever the temperature drops to a certain degree, the leaves and the petals of this Smoky Mountain wildflower will curl up tightly into itself and wait until the warmer months return.
The average temperature that inspires the rhododendrons to curl is around 25 degrees fahrenheit.
Know before you go! Click here for the latest Smoky Mountain weather forecast with Paul Poteet.
A Way to Get a Date
Now before you start to laugh, it was a custom among the women of the early settlers to drop sweet shrubs, also known as Calycanthus, down the front of their dresses in hopes of attracting a boy. Apparently the sweet smell that emitted from the flowers was just want the girl needed to catch the attention of whichever boy she had her eye on. Another nickname for these flowers was bubby bush.
Creates a Durable Wall
Have you ever heard of a laurel “hell?” Well, we hadn’t either until we started looking into some of the interesting facts behind some of our most favorite flowers.
A phrase coined by the early settlers, a laurel “hell” is formed when rhododendrons and the mountain laurels let their branches intertwine with one another so densely that it creates an almost-impenetrable wall.
In addition to the flowers, greenbrier and other grabby plans would also join in the entanglement.
Announces the Return of a Minister
In early spring, the white-blooming service berries would pop up in the fields as a signal to the locals that winter was finally coming to an end, and that the town’s minister would soon return. The ministers back in those days were circuit-riding, which meant that they bounced around from town to town.
Do you have your own fun fact about the Smoky Mountain wild flowers that you would like to share? Let us know in the comments below!
Would you like to learn more wild facts about the Great Smoky Mountains National Park? Be sure to click on the GSM National Park tab on our website! There you will find tons of information on everything there is to do in the Smoky Mountains, as well as tips on hiking, fishing, camping, horseback riding, and more.