Your Favorite Native Plants: Skunk Cabbage

Kim Eierman

Kim Eierman

Founder of EcoBeneficial!

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Yellow-skunk-cabbage

Your Favorite Native Plants: Skunk Cabbage

Here is another winning entry to the EcoBeneficial t-shirt competition from Kay Wulff, answering:  “What is Your Favorite Native Plant and Why?”

“Skunk Cabbage is my favorite native plant. It is so original, showing its flower before all others in spring. It has adapted to live in the wet lands where many people do not dare to go. It creates it’s own little habitat for it’s flower by making a heated haven for early spring insects. I love this plant because I don’t think anyone else out there would. It’s one of kind, like me.”

The yellow flowered skunk cabbage pictured here is our Western species – Lysichiton americanus.  Our Eastern Skunk Cabbage, Symplocarpus foetidus has a red flower, and smells just as badly, both earning their names.   The plant’s nasty odor is very successful in attracting its pollinators, namely flies and bees.

Photo: Lysichiton americanus (Western Skunk Cabbage)

Photo credit: Tanamarn
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AYellow-skunk-cabbage.jpg

2 Comments

  1. Cathy on May 22, 2013 at 9:42 pm

    Love skunk cabbage, too! It’s the first sign that Spring is coming.
    I’m asking for it in nurseries, they just say,no don’t have it.



  2. Kim Eierman on May 22, 2013 at 10:23 pm

    Neither species is easy to find. I found a comment on the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower website which gives a few nursery sources for the Eastern Skunk Cabbage:: http://www.wildflower.org/expert/show.php?id=124

    Symplocarpus foetidus is slow and somewhat difficult to propagate from seed, although you might try to collect some seeds and try to germinate them. Bill Cullina, the author and Exec. Director of Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, suggests collecting the fruits before they rot, extracting the seeds, soaking the seeds for a week and then sowing them outdoors in the soil or in a flat. They will form roots and a bud in the first year and a small plant in the 2nd year. Guess it’s too much work for nurseries to make any profit in growing and selling them.

    Good luck and thanks for your comment!



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