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Emerging Skunk Cabbage

Scientific name: Symplocarpus foetidus

Submitted by:

Jackie Dzaluk

Spotted at:

road side



One of the early signs of spring, the skunk cabbage, now appears as a tight purple rosette. Its foul odor lures flies and carrion beetles to come and pollinate its flowers! Another fascinating fact is that this plant is thermogenic, meaning that the temperature inside these hood-like leaves (called a spathe) are 20 degrees warmer than the surrounding air temperature. This permits the plant to emerge from snow and makes a nice place for the pollinators to visit. They carry the pollen from one flower to another. After pollination is complete, fruit heads appear and eventually their seeds fall to the ground. These will germinate to create next years plants.