This time of year, the skunk cabbage are just starting to bloom. I like to see them, it means spring is here!

Pacific Northwest "flower"
Pacific Northwest “flower”

I think the name of this flower would put most people off – anyone who is not starving, anyway. I don’t know why they add “cabbage” to the name. I do know why the “skunk” portion of the name came about. These plants are pretty big and grow wherever there is lots of moisture and shade, which kind of is everywhere here. They don’t seem to like civilization though, as one has never volunteered in a city lot.

“Western Skunk Cabbage (Lysichiton americanus), also called Yellow Skunk Cabbage or Swamp Lantern, is a plant found in swamps and wet woods, along streams and in other wet areas of the Pacific Northwest, where it is one of the few native species in the arum family. The plant is called Skunk Cabbage because of the distinctive “skunky” odor that it emits. This odor will permeate the area where the plant grows, and can be detected even in old, dried specimens. The distinctive odor attracts its pollinators, scavenging flies and beetles. Although similarly named and with a similar smell, the plant is easy to distinguish from the Eastern Skunk Cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus), another species in the arum family found in eastern North America.” – Wikipedia.

I didn’t know that it’s pollinators are flies and beetles, but that fits with its smell. It smells pretty bad, but the smell isn’t too strong, so it’s still fun to see them as you hike along a damp, dark trail in the woods!  There aren’t many flowers under the trees.

Here is some VERY interesting information that I never knew before – these things have useful properties, good to know, that I found on a healthcare tips website. I guess everything had it’s uses before the AMA took over and told us everything had to come in little pills to be good.

“These leaves were used like wax paper which lined steam pits by most First Nations people. Skunk cabbage was used as a ground herb on splinters & thorns to heal skin wounds by American Indians. Skunk cabbage is an herbaceous plant used to treat asthma, cough, and other breathing disorders. It may be a slight sedative which causes relaxation or sleep.”

More skunk cabbage

More skunk cabbage

Hamster time – I think I’ll take off and go hiking this weekend.