Monday, May 9, 2011

Skunk Cabbage

I promised you skunk cabbage, and now I give you skunk cabbage. "It is a lovely plant, if rather phallic in design," I hear you say, "why is it called skunk cabbage?" Well, folks, to be brutally honest, it stinks. A lot, if the conditions are right.

When in bloom, it produces a stink not at all unlike an actual skunk. According to the Wikipedia entry on skunk cabbage (Lysichiton americanus, to differentiate it from the Eastern Skunk cabbage, which is not at all closely related), this stink is to attract the particular pollinators - flies and beetles - that pollinate the plants.

According to Wikipedia, bears have been known to use skunk cabbage as a laxative (I am so curious about the scientists who figured that out. How do you discover such things? How do you get interested in studying the bowel movements of bears?). But apparently, they are not really that good for humans to eat. Oh darn.

No sign of the flowers in this picture, but you can see just how many of them there are at the nature trail. And that is just one small glade.

Luckily, the flowers were in bloom, but not that pungent the day Dad and I were shooting these pictures. Otherwise, I wouldn't have stuck around long enough to get more than one picture!

1 comment:

TheMom1951 said...

Actually, the Western Skunk Cabbage and the Eastern Skunk Cabbage both belong to the Arum family of plants so they are somewhat related. Otherwise, great information!