Quartet Of Skunk Cabbage Spathes
Photograph - Photograph
Skunk cabbage earns it's name from the skunk-like smell the leaves give off when crushed. It "blooms" in our locale in mid-to-late February and, because it creates its own heat, it can melt snow and ice allowing the spathes to emerge. This heat is caused by cellular respiration caused by its rapid growthThe fetid smell draws insects which act as pollinators.
The stink repels most mammals and draws bees and wasps in droves. This leads some people to incorporate them in gardens. The plants are considered poisonous to humans, however, and if you eat them (and if you can get beyond the smell) you can get very ill. All parts except the earliest, unfurled leaves are to be avoided. The new leaves can be cooked and eaten safely if you follow rigid guidelines about cleaning and cooking. I think it is foolhardy to try.
Once pollination is done the spathes wither and gorgeous, huge, beautiful, textured, green leaves emerge. In autumn you can find the seed pods; they look like black balls with a textured pattern. You can see the "flower", which is yellow with spiky things, inside the largest spathe. This becomes the seed head.
May 16th, 2021
Viewed 43 Times - Last Visitor from Green Lane, PA on 10/12/2021 at 5:08 PM