Saturday, August 6, 2016

Skunk Cabbage

Spring was barely awake at the end of March in New York. Skunk Cabbage is an early sign. This plant is found in northeastern North America. Tearing a leaf produces a skunk-like odor. The smell attracts pollinators and may dissuade potential herbivores.

Skunk Cabbage is one of the few plants demonstrated to produce heat. The plant can generate up to 63 degrees F., thus able to melt its way through frozen ground.  This ability allows it to germinate in early spring. The heat may also spread its odor, attractive to its pollinators.

Skunk cabbage was used by native Americans and colonists for treating respiratory diseases, nervous disorders, rheumatism, and dropsy. The roots and leaves are toxic, but the leaves were dried and used in soups (Wikipedia).

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