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

SkunkCabbage

“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

Remember to tip… My Bitcoin digital wallet address is…1JsKwa3vYgy4LZjNk4YmPEHFJNjPt2wDJj

Get your own wallet at CoinBase.com

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A Plant A Day Till Spring – Day 55 – Elderberry

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

“In Flight – Elderberry” – Summer 2013 – Frick Park – Pittsburgh, PA – Not bad for a $90 camera…

“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…

So… My first experience with Sambucus was in the form of wine… Manischewitz to be exact… I was young and a friend had stolen it from his parents bar… It is not a great memory… In fact… I wouldn’t actually call it a memory… I just know it happened… My stomach still turns at the mere thought of the stuff…

So flash forward 15 years… I have become obsessed with Elderberry… I have studied the plant in books… And observed it in the wild… Last Summer I felt comfortable enough in my ability to propagate the plant successfully… I harvested some berries from a nearby park… I planted them last fall behind an abandoned house in the neighborhood… If the snow ever melts and Spring gets to getting on with its self… I will have a better idea if my method was successful…

Often times when dealing with wildflowers… The seeds require the cold of winter to germinate… This is known as stratification… It is a requirement of many temperate climate seeds and is a natural safety measure to insure the seed does not germinate right before the ground freezes… The result of which would be a dead seedling… Oftentimes the best way to germinate seeds harvested from the wild is to immediately plant them in your own garden before the ground freezes… This mimics what would happen in nature and will offer the highest success rates… Don’t complicate this stuff… Do as nature would do…

Elderberry is a very common plant in my part of the world… In some places it could even border on being a weed… I highly disagree with that concept… But I am just one guy in a country of approximately 317,518,000 people… In other words… I don’t matter… If you do find yourself having to remove one… Good luck… The roots grow deep and the wood is very hard… The roots are like wire and they don’t cut easily… There is honestly not an easy way to remove it without the use of machinery…

Elderberry is on the short list of plants that I think will one day be named a “super-food” like Goji or Acai berries… I am not a nutritionist… Hell… I am not even a healthy eater… But I can predict a scam… And I personally see Elderberry being the next Noni juice… It has the type of health benefits that can be easily blown out of proportion… Now I am not trying to say it is unhealthy or doesn’t deserve attention as a natural food and medicine… Because it does… I just hate when medicines that have been in use for thousands of years suddenly becomes trendy… The resulting exploitation leaves a bad taste in every ones mouth and the result is the plant disappearing into obscurity for another thousand years…

Elderberry is not just known for its berries… The wood is used to make flutes… And the plant as a whole is a staple in folklore… I believe some of the best wands are made of elderberry… If you are into that kind of thing… I actually have a thing with wood that has been struck by lightning… Think about it… How often can you hold something that has been touched by the sky… I haven’t found much of it… But I plan on stepping up the search this summer… Anyway… I dream of finding an elderberry that has been struck by lightning… A sacred plant touched by a sacred event… A guy can dream…

Another post got away from me… I could ramble on about this plant for a few hours… I guess I will just have to save it for a summer evening around the fire…

plant petunias and question everything – chriscondello

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

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

Remember to tip… My Bitcoin digital wallet address is… 1JsKwa3vYgy4LZjNk4YmPEHFJNjPt2wDJj

Get your own wallet at CoinBase.com

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A Plant A Day Till Spring – Day 54 – Tansy

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“Not-so-Common Tansy” – Summer 2013 – Frick Park – Pittsburgh, PA

“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…

Tansy is one of those plants that we all know exists… We have all seen it… But I’d be willing to bet none of us have paid much attention to it… I never have… And then last summer I was watching a red-tailed hawk try to steal a cooper hawks nest… During the course of this I caught a black object moving in my peripheral vision… It turned out to be a dog… A big ass dog… I got a little nervous at first… Then he saw me… As my tail crept between my legs… His tail shot straight up in the air… He ran at me full speed… I have to admit I almost ran… But I didn’t… When the dog got close… He threw himself on the ground at my feet… With his tongue out he started  howling… I had a new friend…

The human attached to this dog was close behind… She was a little old lady with a thick British accent… At first I joked in my head that the dog was obviously walking her… Then she shook my hand… She had a grip like a navy seal… I’d be willing to bet she was 70 years old… And could probably kick my ass blindfolded… Anyway…

This lady knew her stuff… We talked at length about flora and fauna as we walked through the woods… I taught her a little… And she taught me a lot… One of the plants we came across on our walk was Common Tansy… Her face lit up and I could see the wheels of reflection turning in her head… I knew I was about to receive something very special… And believe me… She did not disappoint,..

Apparently… As a young girl growing up in England (wish I could be more specific – I want to say Cornwall – But I don’t even know if that’s really a place) they did not have much money… Or as she put it “pot-less”… Sanitary conditions in her neighborhood were apparently not the greatest and as a result… Flies were everywhere…

Now… It is well-known that Tansy is a powerful insect repellent… Many of todays organic insecticides contain its oils..

Every autumn her and her grandmother would go to the countryside in search of Tansy… They would harvest as much as they could carry… Bring it home and dry it… It was then placed on the sill of every window in the house… The windows could then be cracked in the hot summer months without letting flies into the house…

I have run into a lot of interesting people while walking in the local park… But I have only run into this individual once… I gave her my blogs address… And if she is reading this right now… Please email me…

Tansy is also used as a medicine… Though it borders on poison… I wouldn’t recommend using it… And I wouldn’t ingest this plant…

And I will eat just about anything… Especially tasty treats I find in the forest… Never-the-less… I gathered some Tansy seeds and will be germinating them this spring…

I was looking through my seeds the other day and realized I had gathered elderberry seeds… I forgot about them… I have actually secured permission to transplant some from private property this spring… But I plan on germinating the seeds anyway… I may try to write about Elderberry tomorrow… I know I have photographs of the plant and flowers… I just have to go find them…

plant petunias and question everything – chriscondello

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

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

Remember to tip… My Bitcoin digital wallet address is… 1JsKwa3vYgy4LZjNk4YmPEHFJNjPt2wDJj

Get your own wallet at CoinBase.com

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A Plant A Day Till Spring – Day 12 – Red Trillium

RedTrillium2

“Wake-Robin” – Spring 2013 – Frick Park – Pittsburgh, PA

“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…

Seven Days of Spring Wildflowers

Trillium erectum… Common names include “Wake-Robin”, “Red Trillium”… Or my favorite “Stinking Benjamin”… Is a flowering plant native to the eastern parts of North America… It is a spring ephemeral… And a herbaceous perennial that flowers before the trees leaf out… And then goes dormant after…

Like all Trilliums… Its parts are in groups of three… Three petaled flowers above whorls of pointed triple leaves… Often growing with three stems per rhizome… The flowers are a deep red color… Though there is a white form… The flowers smell really bad… Like rotting meat… Making them irresistible to the flies that pollinate them…

RedTrilliumWhite

“Trillium erectum – White Form” – Spring 2013 – Frick Park – Pittsburgh, PA

Trilliums rely on ants for seed dispersal… The seeds are surrounded in a sweet covering that5 ants love to eat… They collect them and transport them back to their nest… When the ants are finished they then discard the seeds in the back of the nest… Which also happens to be the perfect growing medium for the Trillium seeds…

Picking Trilliums… Or even parts of the Trillium can and will kill it… Even if the rhizome is left undisturbed… Some species are listed as threatened or endangered… ALL of them should be considered threatened as they are EXTREMELY sensitive to disturbances of any kind… Collecting wild specimens is illegal unless on private property… And even then it is highly unethical…

Trilliums will grow in a shade garden… And seed propagation is possible for very experienced gardeners… I have successfully germinated and flowered several species… As a general rule transplants almost always fail… The change in conditions is almost always more than a delicate wildflower can handle… If it were that easy… These plants wouldn’t be threatened…

plant petunias and question everything – chriscondello

New To writing and never had to site sources before… These “Plant a Day Till Spring” posts are simply intended to kill time until spring… My source is Wikipedia.org… The photography is all my own… And I am adding my own information… But much of this is just related from the web…

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… Although this website is free… I sell prints of my photography here – www.society6.com/chriscondello – or you can contact me directly with questions at – c.condello@hotmail.com – Although it isn’t a requirement… It helps…

Remember to tip… My Bitcoin digital wallet address is – 1JsKwa3vYgy4LZjNk4YmPEHFJNjPt2wDJj

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