First wildflower of 2017?
You heard that right. These incredibly mild winter days have not only brought the people out but also the shoots of skunk cabbage!
This plant is commonly the first 'wildflower' to emerge - growing through snow and ice due to its chemical process which warms it to 15* C - these aren't usually found before February.
We'll keep track of these interesting (but smelly when crushed) plants as they go through their stages.
Flower Spotlight: Skunk Cabbage
This unique plant is one of the most interesting plants I've been able to find this season.
Beginning in late winter, the skunk cabbage is the first life to emerge from the cold snow covered ground. Through its rapid growth, its cellular respiration actually melts the snow around it reaching up to 60 degrees fahrenheit! The skunk cabbage gets its name from the smell emitted from the spathe (reddish brown thing: photo 1) generally after disruption or bruising. This smell is important as it attracts the flies that will then pollinate the spadix (round yellow ball that sits inside the spathe: photo 1). By late spring, a tight roll of bright green leaves emerge from next to the spathe, slowly unraveling into huge green cabbage-like leaves that will blanket the wet and wooded area in which it lies.
Since 2015 we have been exploring and sharing all the amazing things we’ve found in nature.
Emily is an Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist who is most often found out in the woods.