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Azalea Expedition: Flame Azaleas at Elk Knob State Park

June 22 @ 9:00 am - 4:30 pm

Event Details


June 22


9:00 am - 4:30 pm

Event Category:

FIELD | Saturday, June 22, 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

The flame azalea, Rhododendron calendulaceum, is one of the most familiar native azaleas in Western North Carolina. Around Asheville, these beautiful plants are typically seen lighting up the understory in early May. At higher elevations, however, they bloom weeks later and often grow in dense thickets atop open-canopy balds. Elk Knob, one of North Carolina’s newest state parks, is a fantastic location to see a unique high-elevation bald plant community and has expansive stands of Rhododendron calendulaceum that bloom en masse in mid-June.

Horticulturist and plant ecologist Carson Ellis, curator of the Arboretum’s National Native Azalea Garden, will lead participants up the two-mile trail, stopping to admire and discuss plants along the way. Gentle switchbacks ascend through shady forest, carpeted by sedges and dotted by wildflowers, to the sunny 5,500 foot summit. Once at risk of being developed, the Nature Conservancy and community fought to protect this special site, in part because of the rare and distinctive species that grow there! Participants will have the opportunity to look for plants like purple fringed orchid and Gray’s lily, both of which bloom around the same time as the Rhododendron calendulaceum.

Learn more and register for open classes here: https://www.ncarboretum.org/education-programs/adult-education-classes/