Joseph starts off today’s episode by introducing today’s topic and starting to dive further into the Smokies’ biodiversity. Over 19,000 individual species have been found in the park, with scientists estimating that there may be thousands, potentially even hundreds of thousands more. The large biodiversity in the park is largely due to the huge range of elevation in the park, with climates similar to that of both the North and South of the east coast of the United States. This diversity is not unique to animals, there are also a wide variety of plants. The high rainfall in the park provides excellent growing conditions for the plants in the mountains. Joseph goes on to discuss the weather in the mountains and how quickly it can change. Research is being done on how the biodiversity in the mountains can be maintained. Joseph discusses the Spring Festival, which celebrates Spring in the mountains and the greening of the environment. The festival takes place in Silva. Joseph shares some of his favorite places and things to do in SIlva. Another town Joseph enjoys and expounds upon is Andrews, NC.
Coming back from the break, Joseph moves on to wildflowers. There are over 16,000 species of wildflowers in the park, and between March and May, they start to bloom. Joseph dives deeper into the specific varieties of flowers seen in the mountains. Joseph recommends bringing a wildflower field guide when walking in the mountains. He then suggests wildflower walks for listeners to check out. A premier wildflower event is the spring wildflower pilgrimage, which aims to bring people together through the appreciation of nature. The annual event provides attendees programs educating them on all types of animals, plants, park history, and much more.
With Spring in the mountains comes fireflies, more specifically, synchronous fireflies. Thousands of fireflies gather in swarms and light up in harmony. The Smokies house the largest population of synchronous fireflies in the western hemisphere. Joseph describes the process of capturing fireflies he used as a child. As he often enjoys doing on the podcast, Joseph shares a poem about fireflies. He then shares ways for tourists to see the fireflies. Moving on, Joseph begins to discuss the topic of foraging. He shares a variety of plants one can forage for and warns listeners to be careful of what they find.
Joseph continues to dive into foraging, discussing a wild onion that grows in the mountains. Another festival in the mountains Joseph enjoys is the herb festival in Asheville. As with the other festivals, the herb festival has many opportunities for education. Joseph also enjoys the Montford Garden Tour, which is running this year for the first time in 17 years. He goes on to discuss motorcycle rallies and car festivals in the mountains. There is also a drive-in concert upcoming. Finishing up the show, Joseph discusses the meadowlark motel and his website.