A Plant A Day Till Spring – Day 89 – Skunk Cabbage


“Symplocarpus foetidus – Skunk Cabbage” – Spring 2013 – Frick Park – Pittsburgh, PA – Blooming right now in my neck of the woods…

A Plant a Day till Spring” will highlight one plant a day, starting on the winter solstice (December 21, 2013)… And ending on the vernal equinox (March 20, 2014)… If all goes to plan I will be starting with old Snowdrop photos from 2013… And ending with new photos of Snowdrops in 2014…

Tomorrow is the last day of Winter!

I know what your thinking… Skunk Cabbage? Not exactly a plant you would expect with only two posts left in this series… Symplocarpus foetidus is not exactly what most people would consider an interesting plant… Well… I intend to change that with this post…

Symplocarpus foetidus… Commonly known as “Eastern Skunk Cabbage”… Or simply “Skunk Cabbage” is one of the nastiest smelling plants I have ever come in contact with… The leaves when broken emit a foul smell similar to the smell of rotting meat… A few years back I decided to test this… I stomped a clump with my shoe and put my nose near it… It burnt so bad I had to go home… It was probably 4 hours before my sense of smell came back…

Skunk Cabbage is one of the first plants to bloom in the spring… Its flowers are produced on a long spadix contained within a spathe… 4-6″ tall and purple in color… The nasty odor of this plant is used to attract pollinating flies that are also active this early in the season…

Skunk Cabbage is one of the few plants that exhibits thermogenesis… Because this plant blooms so early in the year it is not uncommon for this blooming period to occur when the ground is still frozen solid… SC has developed the ability to generate heat… Often reaching temperatures 95 degrees F above air temperature… This helps melt the ground around the rhizome and allows the plant to flower whenever it is ready… It is also thought that this area of warmth also helps attract pollinators…

Believe it or not… Skunk Cabbage is also edible… Kinda… The leaves can be dried and then cooked… Raw they will apparently burn your mouth… SC was commonly used in medicine in the 19th century… Today it is common in water gardens… Though I have to caution… The rhizomes often attain a thickness of 12″ or more… Removal can be difficult…

plant petunias and question everything – chriscondello

If you want some science – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Symplocarpus_foetidus

These “Plant a Day Till Spring” posts are simply intended to kill time until spring when I start writing more… My source (where applicable) is Wikipedia.org… The photography is all my own… And I am adding my own information…

This website and all of the information presented within is provided free by the author… Me… It is my sole opinion and is not representative of anyone other than myself… You can contact me directly with questions at – c.condello@hotmail.com

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5 thoughts on “A Plant A Day Till Spring – Day 89 – Skunk Cabbage

  1. Aggie says:

    Hey, how are you liking your new camera? And, are you using Gimp?


  2. Ruth says:

    I love this plant. Miss it.


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