By Tammy Sons
A wildflower (or wild flower) is defined, 'flower that grows wild,' meaning it was not intentionally seeded or planted. Given this definition, those packets or bags of 'wildflower seeds' cannot be considered a wildflower. In keeping with the 'green movement,' the major seed companies have adopted the term wildflower to boost sales by selling more seeds and more expensive than if they simply packaged the seed with only its name and origin. The term implies that the plant probably is neither a hybrid nor a selected cultivar that is in any way different from the way it appears in the wild as a native plant, even if it is growing where it would not naturally.
The scientific community does not use the term wildflowers and tries to discourage people from using the term altogether. Terms like native species (naturally occurring in the area, see flora), exotic or, better, introduced species (not naturally occurring in the area), of which some are labeled invasive species (that out-compete other plants – whether native or not), imported (introduced to an area whether deliberately or accidentally) and naturalized (introduced to an area, but now considered by the public as native) are much more accurate.
Want to talk and see wildflowers at their best, go to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park where over 1400 species of wildflowers make their annual spring debut. This park hosts a week-long annual spring wildflower pilgrimage to celebrate this diversity. Also, it is the site of the All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory which inventories all the living organisms in the park.
Plant poaching is a major threat in the park. Particularly Ginseng which is a popular target. Removal of specimens such as 'trillium and orchids for private gardens is also threatening these populations.
If that isn't enough air pollution is injurious to native plant populations in the park.
Below is a listing of some springtime wildflower primarily found on the eastern coast of North America:
Claytonia virginica, the Eastern spring beauty, Virginia spring beauty, or fairy-spuds, is a flowering plant native to eastern North America.
Trillium catesbaei, also known as bashful wake-robin or rosy wake-robin, is a spring flowering perennial plant found in the southeastern United States.
Dutchman's breeches is a perennial, and it is native to rich woods of eastern North America. The common name Dutchman's breeches derives from their white flowers that look like white breeches.
Dicentra eximia (Wild or Fringed Bleeding-heart, Turkey-corn) is a herbaceous perennial growing from rhizomes, native to rocky woodland and bases of cliffs in the Appalachians from Pennsylvania south.
Dicentra canadensis, or squirrel corn, is a herbaceous plant in the fumitory family with small yellow clustered bulb-lets, finely dissected leaves, and white heart-shaped flowers, native to deciduous woodland in eastern North America.
Miami Mist (Phacelia purshii) is a spring flowering member of the genus Phacelia native to eastern North America. It can be found in the Great Smoky Mountains north into the Great Lakes region.
Conopholis Americana, American cancer-root or squaw-root or bear corn, is a perennial,non-photosynthesizing and when blooming, resembles a pine cone or cob of corn growing from the roots of mostly oak and beech trees.
Aquilegia (Columbine; from Latin Columba "dove") is a genus of about 60-70 species of perennial plants that are found in meadows, woodlands, and at higher altitudes throughout the Northern Hemisphere, known for the spurred petals of their flowers.