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Plant Details

Symplocarpus foetidus

Skunk Cabbage

Scientific Name:

Symplocarpus foetidus

Genus:

Symplocarpus

Species Epithet:

foetidus

Common Name:

Skunk Cabbage

Plant Type

Herb/Wildflower

Life Cycle

Perennial

Plant Family

Araceae (Arum Family)

Native/Alien:

NC Native

Size:

1-3 ft.

Bloom Color(s):

Yellow, Green, Brown

Light:

Sun - 6 or more hours of sun per day, Part Shade - 2 to 6 hours of sun per day

Soil Moisture:

Moist, Wet

Bloom Time:

Jan, Feb, March, April

Growing Area:

Mountains, Piedmont, Coastal Plain

Habitat Description:

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

Leaf Arrangement:

Basal

Leaf Retention:

Deciduous

Leaf Type:

Leaves veined, not needle-like or scale-like

Leaf Form:

Simple

Life Cycle:

Perennial

Wildlife Value:

Important for Wildlife

Landscape Value:

Suitable for home landscapes

State Status:

W6: Watch List: Regionally Rare (*Key)

Notes:

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.

image

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.

image

Leaves

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Fruit

Fruit ripens between July and September

image

Links:

USDA PLANTS Database Record

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
Flora of North America
NC State Extension


Bird-Friendly Native Plants



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