In the spring and summer, wildflowers spring up along roadsides, mountain streams, and pastures. Look for the small yellow blooms of St. Johnswort and the bushy purple crowns of ironweed. Delicate purple bluebells and white, pink, or purple phlox blanket cool stream banks and coves. Placid lakes and ponds come alive with the white-pink blooms of water lily.
Fields and gardens are decorated with the bracing yellow blooms of sunflowers and the bright-orange colors of butterfly weed. Cultivated lawns and gardens showcase delicate roses and elegant irises, the state flower of Tennessee.
Tennessee’s official state tree is the tulip poplar, a fast-growing tree often used for timber. It blooms in May. Flowering dogwoods are celebrated with the springtime Dogwood Arts Festival in Knoxville. The dogwood’s vibrant flowers are actually white-colored leaves that surround a tight cluster of flowers in the center. Some dogwood “blooms” are pink. Throughout the state you will see magnolia trees, notable for their thick, heavy green leaves and large white blooms.
In West Tennessee’s wetlands and at Reelfoot Lake, look for cypress trees, easily identifiable by their rough, bumpy knees.
© Susanna Henighan Potter from Moon Tennessee, 5th Edition