Skunk Cabbage Emerging

My son and I were exploring around the creek in our backyard and found some skunk cabbage plants starting to push out of the ground.  This area within our woods and is swampy all year round which makes for some perfect skunk cabbage habitat.

How can they emerge so early in the winter and not die?  According to this U.S. Forest Service website:

The ability of the [hood] to quickly emerge in late winter is because the respiration of the plant produces heat which protects the developing flowers from freezing and dying.

How about that?

Here is another one starting to grow.  I’m not sure why its root ball is out of the ground (I might have to ask my kids about that!).

When it isn’t raining the creek can be reduced to a dribble, but the soil still stays mucky allowing the skunk cabbage to grow and flower.  Skunk Cabbage flowers are important since they are one of the first plants to bloom in late winter / early spring and provide food for birds and mammals.  So even though they do indeed smell like skunks (not too strongly however), they are welcome in our yard.

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