Apr 08 2013

It’s Skunk Cabbage Season!

I know at least a few of you are skunk cabbage aficionados. I found some really excellent examples in the little glade on the road that passes by the maclargehuge erratic:

Baby skunk cabbage!

Baby skunk cabbage!

There’s a streamlet that runs through the bottom of the glade, and the place is perpetually damp, which skunk cabbage loves. I caught a flash of yellow and green from the road, and thought there might some be, and so there some was.

Skunk cabbage unfurling.

Skunk cabbage unfurling.

This really is a spectacular plant. It may smell funky, but it’s lovely stuff. It grows up to be enormous, and then is just gone until the next spring. It grows from rhizomes – those dense things that look like swollen roots but are really a sort of modified stem, packed with nutrients and holding the potential of a new plant within. If you want to go see one up close, look at the fresh ginger in the produce section: that’s a rhizome you can study and then use to flavor things. It surely tastes better than skunk cabbage.

I know where to look for skunk cabbage now, and I keep finding more and more round the neighborhood.



The further I went in the glade, the more there was.

One new, one mature.

One new, one mature.

Those huge yellow things aren’t flowers – they’re spathes. They’re modified leaves, curling around the big spiky spandix that holds the actual flowers.

Skunk cabbage on a stream bank.

Skunk cabbage on a stream bank.

You can see the streamlet has cut deep into the soft earth here, and the tall banks are moist enough to make the skunk cabbage very happy indeed. Quite beautiful. This is a peaceful little spot, filled with all sorts of wonderful life.


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  1. 1

    Hey, that means I’ve been reading you regularly for a year now! And it was soon after your skunk cabbage post that I started commenting! Yay me!
    And yay skunk cabbage, of course. ;)

  2. 2

    I’m envious. I’m dying to see some green around town.

  3. 3

    One of my favorite hiking spots has a hillside absolutely covered in skunk cabbage.

    Around my neck of the woods, it’s ramp season. Very pungent.

  4. 4
    Rowan vet-tech

    Pretty! I’m going hiking through Big Basin Redwoods early tomorrow morning. Can’t wait for all the mystery flora to photograph.

  5. 5

    Skunk cabbage is truly a wonderful plant, but if you were a farmer during the Reagan administration, you probably didn’t much care for it. It was used as an indicator species by the Army Corps of Engineers to determine wetland status, which although appropriate, caused a lot of headaches for landowners, who unfortunately took to punishing the messenger.

  6. 6
    or or

    I would like to include this post in the April Berry-Go-Round of Smelly or Ugly plants.
    You can read all about it here :

    Cheers !

    1. 6.1
      Dana Hunter

      By all means! I’ll be honored to have our stinky plants included.

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