Cheerfully predicting Spring, the humble SKUNK CABBAGE recently made its seasonal debut in Griffin area marshes and creeksides. Of its several other common names, Western Skunk Cabbage, Yellow Skunk Cabbage and Swamp Lantern, perhaps the latter is most descriptive of this plant’s big golden yellow “flower,” which almost seems to glow in the muted winter woods.
It turns out the “flower” is actually something called a “spathe” – I had to look it up. A spathe is a large bract that forms a sheath around the flower cluster of certain plants, including the Arum family to which our bright Skunk Cabbage belongs.
Despite our Skunk Cabbage’s distinctive (as in skunky) aroma, its rich green leaves ( the largest of any native plant in our region), and its big yellow flag signaling Spring make it a most welcome sight.
– Diane Wiley
Nature Notes from the Steamboat Peninsula is a new series appearing here, noting and enjoying some of what nature and her admirers are up to in our neighborhood.