Monday, February 20, 2012

Symplocarpus foetidus - Skunk Cabbage

Today on a wet talus slope above the Wabash River I saw Skunk Cabbage with spathes opening and tinged purple, and since they were abundant and I wasn't in a preserve, I took the liberty of tearing one open. Fresh pollen flew all over - it was flowering on February 20, 2012!

In a delightful book entitled "Of Woods and Other Things," Emma Pitcher wrote of Skunk Cabbage: Ever since winter solstice, days started lengthening and small changes are occurring in our natural world. Skunk cabbages sent up tightly furled green leaf cones last September. Now that their strange internal furnaces are activated, dark red flower spathes are forcing up through ice and snow. (Air inside the spathe can be as much as fifty degrees warmer than outside air, so great is the heat the root generates).

3 comments:

Nick said...

Great picture of the flowers and pollen. It stretches the imagination to consider that the tiny Wolffia is related to this.

Keith said...

Thanks Nick. Isn't Wolffia in the Lemnaceae any more?

Nick said...

Lemnaceae been its own family for a while now but still close to the Araceae.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Araceae