Today was the day- first Skunk Cabbage flower of the year! This one is growing in the creek in our backyard.
Why is it called Skunk Cabbage? Brush against it and take a whiff- you’ll figure it out! The smell isn’t too overpowering, but it is unmistakable. These plants flower very early and according to The Nature Institute website:
A couple of times I’ve been lucky enough to see spathes growing up through a thin layer of ice, the ice melted around the spathe in a circular form. This is an indication of skunk cabbage’s remarkable capacity to produce heat when flowering. If you catch the right time, you can put your finger into the cavity formed by the spathe and when you touch the flower head, your finger tip warms up noticeably. Biologist Roger Knutson found that skunk cabbage flowers produce warmth over a period of 12-14 days, remaining on average 20° C (36° F) above the outside air temperature, whether during the day or night. During this time they regulate their warmth, as a warm-blooded animal might!
The flower is boring to some because it doesn’t have petals, but I think it’s cool. It attracts flies to pollinate it. Other creatures usually stop by to feed on it as well…
This deer track was a short distance away. Even though Skunk Cabbage is generally poisonous to humans, deer are able to eat it and it can make for a valuable late winter meal.
Pretty soon the entire creek area will be filled with these plants.