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Eastern Skunk Cabbage

Symplocarpus foetidus

Description:

This plant has large, thick, bright green leaves. The flowers are contained in a spathe, which is fleshy and reddish in coloration with a yellow/greenish patterning.

Habitat:

Wet forests; sometimes found in wetlands.

Notes:

This is a fascinating plant. In summer it stores carbohydrates in a large fleshy root. In spring, it begins to metabolize this starch heating up the frozen ground around itself and sending the flower through the melting ground. But it doesn't stop here. As long as the ambient temperature is above freezing this amazing plant may increase the temperature inside the flower spathe by an additional 40 degrees F. The flower attracts pollinating flies in two ways: by generating warmth for the cold-blooded flies and offering a warm refugium in the cold weather, but also by smelling like rotting meat. The flies, in turn, pollinate the skunk cabbage. An amazing plant! It's a plant that I seek out each spring; a promise of warmer weather when Minnesota's winter still seems to be in control.

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3 Comments

ulvalactuca77
ulvalactuca77 8 years ago

Excellent information!

alicelongmartin
alicelongmartin 9 years ago

Wonderful picture and information!

ErinLucy
ErinLucy 9 years ago

That is TOO cool!

Gordon Dietzman
Spotted by
Gordon Dietzman

Minnesota, USA

Spotted on Apr 15, 2007
Submitted on Jun 15, 2011

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