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Wetland Plants and Plant Communities of Minnesota and Wisconsin


(Symplocarpus foetidus (L.) Nutt.)

Skunk cabbage



FIELD CHARACTERISTICS: A low, coarse, perennial herb with a thick rhizome. The spathe is 8-15 cm. high, sessile, egg-shaped, and mottled with purple and green. The spadix is spherical or football-shaped with many densely-packed flowers. Basal leaves are huge (to 3-6 dm.), ovate and heart-shaped at the base, emerging after the spathe. In flower from March to May.

ECOLOGICAL NOTES: Skunk cabbage is found in wooded swamps and shrub swamps; especially in springy areas.

As the name implies, skunk cabbage has a strong skunk- or garlic-like odor. It is our earliest herbaceous "wildflower" to bloom in spring, sometimes emerging through snow.

SOURCE: Fernald (1970); Gleason and Cronquist (1991); and Voss (1972).

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