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This article is from the Encyclopedia of North Carolina edited by William S. Powell. Copyright © 2006 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

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Cherokee Botanical Garden

by Wiley J. Williams, 2006

Part of the Cherokee Botanical Gardens, 2007. Image from Flickr user Flatbush Gardener/ Chris Kreussling.The Cherokee Botanical Garden, first opened to the public in May 1953, adjoins Oconaluftee Indian Village on the Cherokee Indian Reservation (Qualla Boundary) in western North Carolina. The garden is a project of the nonprofit Cherokee Historical Association, incorporated in 1948 to research and publicize the history and traditions of the Cherokee. Its other endeavors include Unto These Hills, an outdoor drama tracing Cherokee history produced each summer since 1950 in the Mountainside Theater. The association also owns the Museum of the Cherokee Indian, believed to house the most complete collection of Cherokee artifacts in existence. These artifacts, rescued from burial grounds and ancient campsites, date back some 10,000 years.

Along the half-mile nature trail of the Cherokee Botanical Garden are many of the flora of the Smoky Mountains, Plaque at the Cherokee Botanical Gardens, 2007. Image from Flickr user Flatbush Gardener/ Chris Kreussling.including rhododendrons, mountain laurel, bloodroot, jewel weed, squirrel corn, Dutchman's breeches, hepatica, wild white hydrangeas, asters, pink flowering raspberry, sunflowers, goldenrods, shad-bush, sassafras, tulip trees, and azaleas. Huckleberry, mountain ash, various sumacs, vegetables (Indian corn, pole beans, turnips, and others), zinnias, marigolds, and other plant varieties are included in the 150 species represented. Each is identified by its botanical and common names and grows in a spot that is well suited to its particular needs; many of the plants are growing where they were before the garden's inception. Care has been taken to disturb the natural growth as little as possible and to put new species and replacements in their natural habitats. Paths lead up and around mossy rocks, through which water trickles slowly downward.


Aubry Jennings, "Cherokee Indian Garden," The State 30 (August 1962).

Marguerite Schumann, Tar Heel Sights (1983).

Ginny Turner, ed., North Carolina Traveler (4th ed., 1997).

Additional Resources:

"Oconoluftee Gardens– Cherokee Botanical Garden." Sitework Studios. http://www.siteworkstudios.com/port/cherokee_heritage.shtml (accessed October 31, 2012).

"J. C. Raulston's Slide Collection" (search results). J. C. Raulston Arboretuem, North Carolina State University. 1977. http://ncsu.edu/jcraulstonarboretum/photography/raulston_slides/raulston_slides_results.php?fullsearch=&box=&slide=&date=&photographer=&country=&usstate=&city=&location=Cherokee%20botanical%20garden&keywords=&othernotes=&plantnames=&commonnames=&families=&digitized=&plantnameID= (accessed October 31, 2012).

Ellison, George. “Natural History Abounds Along Nature Trail at Cherokee Botanical Garden.” Asheville Citizen-Times. June 18, 1999:D3.

Image Credits:

"DSC_4089."  Cherokee Botanical Gardens, Cherokee, N.C. August 15, 2007. Image from Flickr user Flatbush Gardener/ Chris Kreussling. http://www.flickr.com/photos/flatbushgardener/1132213361/ (accessed October 31, 2012).

"DSC_4096." Cherokee Botanical Gardens, Cherokee, N.C. August 15, 2007. Image from Flickr user Flatbush Gardener/ Chris Kreussling. http://www.flickr.com/photos/flatbushgardener/1133064726/ (accessed October 31, 2012).


Origin - location: 



I am doing a project on N.C. cultural sites. And I cannot find the date the Cherokee Botanical Garden became a state cultural site. I need this date today. Please answer quickly
Date: February 10th, 2016.


Hi Abby,

This NCpedia article indicates that the garden opened in May 1953.  The botannical garden is operated by the Eastern Band of the Cherokee, and you may want to contact them directly to ask for more information. Here is contact information:

Cherokee Botanical Garden and Nature Trail
Cherokee Indian Reservation
Cherokee, NC
Phone Number: 828-497-7000

I'm sorry we can't give you a more precise answer.

Good luck and please post back if you have additional questions,

Kelly Agan, NC Government & Heritage Library



I would love to see this place. Please send me info on this place.

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