First Spring Flowers are Up!

One of the very first flowers to bloom is skunk cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus).  A member of the Arum Family, it is neither a skunk nor a cabbage.

You can find skunk cabbage in damp areas along streams and wetlands.  It likes to have its toes moist, so forget looking for it where the soil dries out completely.

The colorful portion of this plant is technically called the spathe – it doesn’t have petals as such.  For those who are familiar with botanical terms, the spathe is also the name for the “flower” portion of Jack-in-the-pulpit.  In truth, the spathe is a modified leaf.

Skunk cabbage earns its name by producing a scent often likened to that of rotting meat.  This attracts the flies that are its primary pollinator.

As the season progresses, skunk cabbage unfurls beautiful green leaves that can become quite massive in size, blanketing the ground in which it grows.  Come fall, you can look for the hard, wood-like interior of the flower:

This is a plant to watch throughout each season of the year.


About Dahlem Center

The Dahlem Center is a non-profit nature center/environmental education center located on almost 300 acres just south of the city of Jackson, Michigan. The Center is one arm of the Dahlem Conservancy, which includes land conservancy and stewardship in its mission.
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One Response to First Spring Flowers are Up!

  1. Pegg Clevenger says:

    So much to wonder about on the Dahlem trails every season of the year. Thanks for the great info on your blog.

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