Family: Araceae

Scientific Name: Symplocarpus foetidus

Common Name: Skunk Cabbage

DescriptionAn early blooming plant found in swamps, bogs or other wet areas. As the name implies Skunk Cabbage flowers have a strong skunk or garlic smell. This is used to attract pollinators.
Plant TypeWild Flowers
Hardiness Zone5
Moisturemoist, wet
Soil & Sitemoist, wet, swampy
FlowersThe malodorous flowers are a football shaped spadix surrounded by a huge purple, bronze, green spathe. Flowers appear in March though May. Many times they will emerge through the snow
LeavesHuge heart shaped leaves that emerge after they flower.
StemsForms a thick under ground rhizome that once established is very difficult to move.
RootsRoots will pull the plant down into the soil each year. Older plants have just the spadix above the ground.
Misc FactsThis is a monotypic genus. The plant is senescent, meaning leaves and stems die back late summer early fall. The species name foetidus is drived from foetid which means fetid. Young cooked shoots are presumably edible, if you change the water a few times!
Author's NotesEvery year I visit a conservancy where these plants number the hundreds in the wet areas and near a small stream. Also I walk a bridge through a bog at Boerner Botanical gardens and the Skunk Cabbage is blooming below. Many times the emerging purple colored spadix and maybe a few leaves are the only visible growing plants in an area.
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