Symplocarpus foetidus
Skunk cabbage

Skunk cabbage

Skunk cabbage
Symplocarpus foetidus
Photos Courtesy Renee Brecht
Britton & Brown
Botanical name: Symplocarpus foetidus
Common name: Skunk cabbage
Group: monocot
Family: Araceae
Growth type: forb/herb
Duration: perennial
Origin: native
Plant height: 1 - 2'
Flower: maroon, sometimes streaked with yellowish green, tiny,  found on the spathe inside the hooded spadix; entire flowering structure is 3-5"  high
Flowering time: flowers February to March, sometimes as early as January
Habitat: swampy ground, especially in woods
Range in New Jersey: northern, middle, and Cape May districts
Heritage ranking, if any: n/a
Misc.: USDA lists as an obligate wetland species, occurs almost always (estimated probability 99%) under natural conditions in wetlands.

Witmer Stone remarks of this curious plant: "As early as February we may find the maroon spathes of the Skunk Cabbage pushing their noses out of the mud in some springhead where the ground is not deeply frozen, sometimes uniformly colored, sometimes streaked with yellowish green, and if we look inside we shall probably find a dust of pollen on the bottom of the chamber, showing that the plant is truly in bloom. It will be some weeks before the leaves begin to show themselves, and by that time the spathes will be pretty well withered...."

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