Eastern Swamp Cabbage – now flowering!

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This photo was taken on 3/22 at the wetlands at the end of Brook Street- the site of the 3/29 cleanup. This is the bloom of an Eastern Skunk Cabbage, Symplocarpus foetidus. This green leafed, deeply rooted, foul smelling wetland plant is native to Eastern North America. The purple mottled flowers emerge first in early spring, the stem is buried and the leaves emerge later in the spring. The Eastern Skunk Cabbage has the fascinating ability to “generate temperatures of up to 15-35°C (59-95°F) above air temperature by cyanide resistant cellular respiration”, enabling the plant to flower when there may still be snow and ice on the ground, as it is pollinated by insects that also emerge in early spring! If you break or tear a leaf, you will notice a pungent foul smelling odor. For more information please look at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Symplocarpus_foetidus and http://www.natureinstitute.org/pub/ic/ic4/skunkcabbage.htm

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