Skunk Cabbage and Springs return

Spring has finally begun to arrive here in western Pennsylvania. The snows are melting and today it hit a balmy 50 degrees! I took advantage of the day and went wandering, and along my way I found what I consider to be the harbinger of Spring…Skunk Cabbage. The scientific name for Skunk Cabbage is Symplocarpus foetidus and it is found in swampy wetlands east of the Mississippi, and if you haven’t gathered by its common name, it smells like a skunk. Though smelling like a skunk may be its most well known attribute, the lesser known and way more exciting one is that it can raise its own temperature through a process known as Thermogenesis. This comes in handy since Skunk Cabbage often begins to bloom before the snow has melted and the ground has thawed making it one of the earliest spring plants to bloom. And on this first real warm day of the year that’s what I found, about a dozen little Skunk Cabbage blooms sticking up through the snow reaching for the sunlight welcoming the spring days to come.

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