Plant Details

Symplocarpus foetidus

Skunk Cabbage

Scientific Name:

Symplocarpus foetidus

Common Name:

Skunk Cabbage

Plant Family

Araceae (Arum Family)


NC Native



Bloom Color(s):

green, maroon

Size in Feet:

1 - 2 ft

Bloom Time:

January - March

Bloom Area:

uncommon in Mountains, rare in Piedmont and Coast

Habitat Description:

Seepage-fed bogs and nonalluvial swamps. Uncommon in NC Mountains, rare in Piedmont and Coastal Plain.

State Rank:

No NC Rank Listed (*)

Global Rank:

No Global Rank listed (*)

State Status:

W6: Watch List: Regionally Rare (*)

Federal Status:

No U.S. Status Listed (*)


plant can self-heat to ] to 15 deg C melting snow and ice to allow it to flower in the cold weather. Endangered in TN.

Fading flower

Skunk Cabbage is one of our earliest flowers to bloom, emerging even from ice. It is able to produce its own heat, reaching nearly 70 degrees when the temperature is still in the 40s. This attracts pollinators to the ball of tiny flowers (spadix) inside the fleshy hood or spathe.


Paynter, late March 2012

New leaves and developing fruit

The common name comes from the fetid odor of any bruised parts of Skunk Cabbage. This may deter herbivores, especially if they learn to associate the smell with the sharp calcium oxalate crystals the plant produces. The smell also attracts pollinating flies.





Fruit ripens between July and September



USDA PLANTS Database Record

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
Flora of North America
NC State Extension
Bird-Friendly Native Plants

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