Skunk Cabbage

Early spring weather is upon us!  Although there isn’t much in the way of wildflowers blooming yet, I recently spotted an unusual plant that I thought was worth talking about.

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I’ve been down along the Scioto River in a boggy area a couple of times this month observing a very unique plant that likes to grow in wet areas in the spring.

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One of the unusual things about this plant is that its ‘blooms’ appear before its leaves.

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This plant encloses its ‘blooms’ in a pod-like structure.

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In the above pictures, you can see the ‘bloom’ (technically called a spadix) inside the purplish containers.

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These containers allow this plant to get a head start on most other plants in the spring by controlling the temperature inside through cellular respiration, keeping the plant warmer than the surrounding environment.  This is known as thermogenesis and it is pretty rare.

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This plant produces a rotten odor, which attracts early insects to pollinate it.  I’ve already seen some flying insects and a honeybee out and about here in central Ohio.

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This plant is known as Skunk Cabbage.  It’s not your average wildflower by any means!

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The pods almost remind me of pitcher plants.  Pollinating insects may be encouraged to enter by the warmer air inside in the cold early spring weather.

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They are quite exotic-looking.

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This plant has roots that continually grow down into the soil, making it difficult to remove.

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Its seeds will fall off of the plant after pollination to be carried away by critters or water to start a new plant in another location.

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Here a leaf is starting to grow next to a pod.

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I took this final picture last year- this is what Skunk Cabbage looks like in May.  The purple pods give way to large leaves.  It’s much easier to spot this way, look in wet places for its colonies.

Nature is amazing, isn’t it?