Daily Archives: April 10, 2010

Skunk Cabbage

While I continue my own ‘Operation Two Feet’ I’m getting an opportunity to enjoy watching the canal path I ride along recover from the winter AND from a couple of years of restoration due to serious flooding we had.  On Tuesday I saw a muskrat swimming along quite nicely and passed a man just as he was pulling a nice sized rainbow trout out of the canal (and to my shock, returned it to the water rather than making for the nearest frying pan) and the turtles sunning themselves where ever they can.

And I get to see the Eastern Skunk Cabbage come up in the marshy areas of the trail.  I don’t know why but I’ve got a soft spot in my heart for this stinky plant.  It gets no respect.  As kids we’d kick them around to get them to release their noxious smell (yeah, we weren’t too bright).  But, it’s kind of noble looking if you ask me.  Nice, big, full leaves that add some color and substance to the usual slime and scrawny growth you see in the swamp.

And it’s an interesting plant as well:

Skunk cabbage is notable for its ability to generate temperatures of up to 15-35°C above air temperature by cyanide resistant cellular respiration in order to melt its way through frozen ground, placing it among a small group of plants exhibiting thermogenesis. Although flowering whilst there is still snow and ice on the ground it is successfully pollinated by early insects that also emerge at this time.