A vast array of wildflowers enjoys the warm spring months and hot, humid summers of Tennessee. From wetlands to mountains, a variety of native and introduced species of flowers can be found across the state.
Each plant has adapted to the climate and conditions of the environment, with many thriving in their habitats.
Let’s take a look at 45 common types of Tennessee wildflowers including photos to make it easier for you to identify them.
The Tennessee coneflower or echinacea tennesseensis is endemic to a few counties around Nashville, Tennessee.
It has recently been removed from the endangered species list. The flower has flat pink blooms with burgundy and green centers.
Its extensive taproot allows it to thrive in well drained, dry sites. Blooming from June to August the flowers attract butterflies and bees.
The Hairy White Oldfield Aster is also known as the Frost Aster. Its stem and branches are covered with fine white hairs, which account for its name.
The flower is perennial and blooms from August to October. The plant can grow to more than 5 feet tall with stiff, narrow leaves and white ray flowers featuring a yellow disc.
Blooming in late summer to early fall, the New England Aster produces flowers that can range from shades of pink, lavender, purple or violet.
The plant can grow to more than 6 feet high and is an important source of nectar for Monarch butterflies as they migrate to Mexico. It is also the larval host for the several moths and butterflies.
This flower is part of the Rose family, although the leaves tend to resemble those of the strawberry plant. Each bloom has five petals and are approximately ½ inch in diameter. The foliage of the White Avens is semi-evergreen.
Typically, the plant will grow to between 6 and 18 inches but on occasion can reach more than 4 feet in height.
The common name for this plant derives from the appearance of its long, thin seedheads.
While the natural habitat of the Spanish Needles plant includes open woodlands, woodland borders, weedy meadows roadsides it will survive in drier conditions.
The nectar and flowers attract bees, butterflies and flies. Moth caterpillars will feed on the foliage and other parts of the plant.
Part of the Lily family, the Mountain Bellwort is a perennial plant that grows to about 18 inches. It will bloom from March to June and has capsule type flower heads which are a yellow-green color.
The dark green, glossy leaves are oblong and come to a sharp point. As its name suggests its preferred habitat is in the mountain woodlands.
Crimson or Scarlet Bee Balm is a member of the Mint family, attested to by the minty aroma of its leaves. The plant grows to about 3 feet and the flowers are tightly clustered, tube shaped blooms.
Hummingbirds are attracted to these flowers, and it hosts the Hermit Sphinx and Gray Marvel moth. Blooming time is from June to August.
The colorful Indian Blanket resembles a Fourth of July pinwheel with its red center and yellow tips. The flower heads are approximately 2 inches in diameter and have clefted rays. The center of the bloom is brownish red.
Growing across the entire Southwest these flowers will tolerate dry and hot conditions and can grow to between 12 and 24 inches.
A member of the Aster family, this slender perennial can be found in moist habitats such as marsh edges and mesic prairies. The showy flower clusters attract hummingbirds and butterflies and are a rose to purple color.
Growing to a height of between 2 and 6 feet the plant blooms from July to November. The grass-like leaves clump toward the base of the plant.
The American Blueheart is found in pine woodlands, prairies and marshes. It blooms all year round but with peak blooming in late spring and early summer.
With its bright violet flowers the plant attracts butterflies including the common buckeye which it hosts.
It tends to be a parasitic plant, feeding on other nearby hosts, although it can sustain itself through photosynthesis.
The Bulbous Buttercup gets its name from its swollen base. From this stems of 8 to 16 inches sprout and hold up the familiar cup shaped blooms. This plant can be found growing in residential lawns, wildflower meadows and prairies.
Flowering from May to June the flower has 5 petals and roundish-triangular leaves which tend to be hairy, as are the stems.
This trailing plant is part of the Pea family and can grow to around 12 feet. If supported it will climb but if not the plant will sprawl on the ground. Its violet flowers are quite distinctive and bloom from April to November.
The conspicuous flowers are a source of nectar for butterflies and bees. It can be found in woodlands, pine forests and coastal areas.
This striking wildflower is so named because it has rounded leaves and is a significant attractor of flies. It is a native plant that grows abundantly in the Appalachian Mountains, in woodland and in shaded cliff areas.
The bright red colored blooms have 5 petals and are around an inch in diameter. They bloom between March and October.
Common Chicory (This wildflower is also present in Wisconsin. Find out more about it.) is known by many other names including blue daisy, blue dandelion and coffeeweed. It is often seen along roadsides and despite its pretty flower heads it can look like quite a straggly plant.
The flowers will only open on a sunny day and are typically 1 to 1 ½ inches in diameter. The leaves at the base of the plant resemble dandelion leaves.
The daisy-like flowers of the Black-eyed Susan are its distinguishing feature and where it gets its name. The dark center surrounded by bright yellow petals is its claim to fame.
Each bloom sits on top of a 1-2 foot stem which is scattered with oval leaves. The stems and leaves are covered with fine hairs giving them a rough texture.
With a gorgeous display of showy flowers the Eastern Red Columbine is a tall perennial plant. Its nodding, red and yellow blooms with upward turned petals and hanging yellow stamens make it an eye-catching plant.
The flowers are more than 2 inches long and bloom between February and July. Bees, butterflies and hummingbirds are all attracted to this plant.
One of the first flowers to burst into life in spring, the dandelion is a common sight on lawns. It gives bees an important source of nectar when few other flowers are in bloom.
The jagged leaves of the dandelion are very recognizable as are the rounded seed heads. Each seed is supported by a feathery parachute, perfect for transport by the wind.
Widely distributed, the Common Evening Primrose is found in abundance across the United States. Also known as King’s Cure-all it has been long used for its medicinal and health benefits.
The bright yellow, four-petaled flowers open at night and close at noon. Being highly fragranced they attract butterflies, moths, bees and hummingbirds. Small animals will also eat the leaves.
This wildflower is a perennial plant that grows in pastures, along roadsides and stream banks. It has delicate blooms which contrast the large flat leaves at the base, giving the plant its common name.
These leaves can be up to 8 inches long and 3 inches wide.Blooming between July and October the blossoms range from pale violet to white.
The wonderfully labeled Trout Lily gets its name from the brownish mottled leaves at the base of the plant which resemble brown trout and its membership of the Lily family.
Each stalk is approximately 8 inches tall and holds up a single, nodding flower. Yellow on the inside and bronze colored on the outside the bloom exposes prominent stamens.
The common name of this plant originated from the belief that it could rid a house of fleas. It is an annual plant that can grow to a height of 5 feet, although typically it is much shorter.
Natural habitats include fields, roadsides and open waste spaces. Eastern Daisy Fleabane’s white and yellow ray flowers bloom from June through to November.
The Yellow Fringed Orchid grows in moist areas such as wet pine woods, wet prairies and seepage bogs. The blossoms are bright yellow to orange with a heavily fringed lower lip and lightly fringed petals.
Butterflies are the plant’s primary pollinator using their long tongues to access the nectar, the pollen then sticks to the insect to be transported to the next flower.
Wild Quinine, part of the Aster family, is also known as American Fever-few for the use of its leaves as a tea to treat fever.
It has an upright form, growing to between 2–3 feet tall with dense clusters of white flowers which attract many pollinators. Blooming time is from June until September, and it will typically grow in areas getting full sun.
Yellow Corydalis is also known as Fumewort and produces mounds of fern-like leaves and bright yellow flowers.
The plant will grow to between 12 and 18 inches tall and blooms from late spring to early fall. In times of drought it may die off but will recover in moist fall weather. It occurs in woodland, meadows and on prairies.
This pretty plant is actually part of the Pea family and will grow up to three feet. It is endemic to the South Appalachian mountains and found at moderate to high elevations. Blooming occurs from late May to July.
The flowers are a deep yellow with the two upper petals being shorter than the lower petals and the leaves are elliptical.
Sweet Breath of Spring is also known as Winter Honeysuckle. It is a broadleaf shrub that can grow up to 10 feet. Flowering occurs between December and March, hence its name.
The flowers are a creamy white color and have a lemon fragrance. This is an invasive plant, native to southern and eastern China being introduced into the United States in the 1800s.
This perennial plant is a member of the Pea family and grows in exposed glades, particularly limestone cedar glades. It is also known as Glade Potato due to its tuberous root.
Flowering occurs in April or May, dying back in the summer heat. It is a semi prostrate plant, but the flowering stem can be a foot high.
An annual plant that looks as though it has been dipped in paint. The scarlet, fan shaped bracts almost hide the small greenish flowers. The leaves are green with three narrow lobes.
Flowering occurs from January through to September with the blooms ranging from red, pink and orange. The Scarlet Indian Paintbrush’s native habitat are meadows, prairies and roadsides.
Known by a variety of names such as Leopard Lily this flower is actually a member of the Iris family and not a lily at all.
However its petals are very different from typical iris blooms, and sit on top of 2-3 foot tall stems. The color of the blooms varies from orange to yellow and produces several showings over the summer.
The intensely fragrant Dwarf Violet Iris grows low to the ground and produces a myriad of flowers. It grows in woodland, coastal plains and is also found in mountainous areas.
The semi-evergreen leaves are about a foot long and the flowers appear at the end of 2 inch stalks. Blooming occurs from March to May.
The Pink Ladyslipper is a member of the Orchid family and is quite distinctive. The magenta flower appears at the end of an erect stalk which grows between a pair of opposite basal leaves.
This flower can grow up to 15 inches tall and will bloom between May and July. They attract bees on whom they rely for pollination.
The intensely bright red of the Cardinal Flower was the inspiration for the common name for this plant, it alludes to the color robes that Catholic cardinals wear.
The flowers are displayed on terminal spikes with the rest of the stem supporting lance shaped leaves. Cardinal Flowers depend on hummingbirds for pollination due to their long tubular blooms.
Close inspection of the Whiteflower Leafcup will reveal its association with the Sunflower, both belonging to the Aster family. The fact that it can grow to 60 inches is another indication of its origin.
White petals surround the golden yellow center and appear in late spring persisting until mid-fall. It has large deeply lobed leaves at the base with more simple leaves at the top.
Leather Vasevine is a dramatic flowering vine that grows in wooded habitats, along stream banks and in mesic forests. It can reach 4 meters in height or length depending on whether it is supported.
The flowers are bell shaped with the sepals being upturned at the tips. Colors range from light purple to reddish purple becoming a cream color at the end of the sepals.
A spectacular lily with bright orange petals featuring reddish brown spots and showy stamens. The whole thing resembles a type of hat worn by the Turks, hence its name.
The flowers sit atop a tall stem which can support a surprising number of blooms. Up to 40 have been recorded on one plant. The recurved sepals and petals display the stamens.
The Downy Lobelia enjoys open ground, low woods and meadows as its preferred habitats. It belongs to the Bellflower family and is a perennial wildflower.
The plant will grow to between 2 and 4 feet in height. Leaves and stems are covered in fuzzy hairs giving the flower its common name. Blue flowers with white centers appear in late summer continuing into mid-fall.
The American Lotus, also known as the Yellow Water Lotus is an aquatic plant with pale yellow flowers and a pleasant fragrance. The bloom and large bowl-shaped leaves are held above the water on stalks.
In the center of the flower is an inverted cone-like structure which helps to distinguish it from other water lilies. Bloom time is from May to September.
Also known as Stinkweed, this plant is an ill-scented herb but is very attractive to ladybird beetles who feed on aphids.
Mayweed flowers from May to September, but blooms are at their strongest in June and July. The plant can grow up to 2 feet in height and the flowers are white with a yellow center.
This perennial wildflower grows in marshes, bogs and meadows thriving in moist soil and part shade. It grows up to foot high with slender stems bearing lance-shaped leaves and white or purple flowers.
Each flower has four petals and a group of orange-yellow stamens which contrast with the petals. The flowers are 2 inches across and bloom from May to October.
Sensitive Briar belongs to the pea family and gets its name from the fact that it closes its leaflets if touched.
The fragrant flowers of this plant resemble little balls growing at intervals along the stem. The sprawling stems grow up to 3 feet in ravines, open woods and on prairies. Blooming time is from April to July.
Small Red Morning Glory is an aggressive climber and can often be seen at the roadside, near railroads and on waste ground. Although it also grows in meadows and fields.
The flowers are scarlet red with a red-orange center and are very attractive to hummingbirds and butterflies. Blooming occurs in the summer and through to fall.
Part of the Verbena family, Rose Vervain is a pretty plant with 2 inch clusters of fragrant flowers. It is a creeping plant and occurs in large, dense mats between 5–10 inches high. The leaves are hairy and deep toothed.
Flowering occurs for a lot of the year, from February through to September in the plant’s favored habitats of meadows, woodland edges and prairies.
Perennial Sweet Pea or Everlasting Pea is a perennial, climbing vine with beautiful bright flowers. It can grow up to 10 feet and blooms in the summer. The flowers are held on slender stems above the foliage.
Using tendrils the plant will take hold of a structure and grow over it or create pretty ground cover.
Downy Phlox or Prairie Phlox (This wildflower is also present in Arkansas. Find out more about it.) is a mounded perennial which produces clusters of light pink to lavender flowers. They attract long-tongued bees, butterflies and skippers. The leaves are covered in soft hairs giving the plant one of its common names.
The natural habitats for this wildflower are open woodland, prairies, sand hills and grasslands. Flowering occurs in March through to August.
This delicate wildflower is part of the Buttercup family belonging to the Anemone genus. The plant grows to between 2 and 6 inches producing single flowers on the end of each stalk.
The blooms are ½ inch to 1 inch across and pink, white or violet in color. Flowering occurs from March to May in the flowers’ preferred habitats of deciduous or mixed woodland.
Next time you are out on a hike or just taking a drive through the Volunteer State we hope you’ll stop and take time out to appreciate the beauty of the wildflowers growing there.
We hope you have enjoyed our stroll through 45 of Tennessee’s most beautiful wildflowers and that it has been informative.