02.27.2020 The Aforementioned Skunk Cabbages

About time they showed up after being mentioned for a few days. Skunk Cabbage-Symplocarpus foetidus, with a variety of other names such as Polecat Weed, is found in wet areas such as the seep located along the road in Quabbin Park. These spathes provide their own heat and can melt up through snow and ice to begin the season as one of Spring’s (or late winter’s) earliest flowering plants. It’s edible once you get past the smell which reminds of skunk when the leaves are crushed. I’ve not tried it and since I don’t forage am not likely to. The plants also have purported medicinal uses although there isn’t a lot of proof they are actually therapeutic.

I was looking for them anyway, but when I saw the pleasing green from the algae in the water I was drawn to this cluster with the nice background. You might notice a bit of texture from the thin layer of ice sitting atop the seep, an area where water just oozes up through the soil creating a temporary pool.


About Steve Gingold

I am a Nature Photographer with interests in all things related. Water, flowers, insects and fungi are my main interests but I am happy to photograph wildlife and landscapes and all other of Nature's subjects.
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23 Responses to 02.27.2020 The Aforementioned Skunk Cabbages

  1. A very interesting post and education of this plant which I have never heard of before. I don’t really like cabbage at the best of times … but one smelling of skunk! I really like the colours and the light in this shot, Steve.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. eremophila says:

    I’m thinking of synchronized swimmers Steve, doing their routine. A fascinating plant. Of course, I have no idea about skunks apart from watching American cartoons on tv as a child.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good old Pepe LePew. πŸ™‚ I enjoyed a lot of those childhood cartoons and his exploits were among my favorites. Let’s face it…I still enjoy them. Matter of fact, here’s one recent one I like. It’s one we’ve been waiting for a long time. πŸ™‚ I hope a little questionable language won’t offend you.

      Liked by 1 person

      • eremophila says:

        I couldn’t follow that link, sorry Steve, I’m sure it would have been good. Language no probs. πŸ™‚


      • On my end the YouTube video is there just to click the little arrow. Don’t know why it’s not for you. If you are curious and saw a lot of Coyote vs. Roadrunner cartoons you might be able to find it on YT by searching for Coyote catches Roadrunner. Maybe AU blocks it because of the language?


  3. That’s quite an energetic group, and the dark triangular reflections are a nice touch.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I have experienced the odor, when someone accidentally stepped on one of these, and they do not exaggerate — very strong, very unpleasant. They’re actually a very handsome plant, when they’re undisturbed.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I’ve been the guy to step on one while photographing another adding a bit of noxious flavor to the experience. The flowers are lovely with the deep dark red. The leaves are nice too..one of the coolest things I’ve found regarding skunk cabbage was this little soon to be frustrated forest of maple seedlings…second one down.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Ann Mackay says:

    They’re used a lot in Scottish water-gardens, but luckily I’ve never smelt one! I’m intrigued by the fact that they can create their own heat – very useful when there’s ice and snow around.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I think this is a stunning image. Many subtleties and many boldnesses.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Mike. I had shot a few other plants when I finally came upon this. I became quite excited about it as I composed looking through the back screen. It’s a toss up whether this or the encased leaf is my favorite form the day.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Eliza Waters says:

    Nicely composed, a welcome sight!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Hannah Keene says:

    Absolutely beautiful Stephen!!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. shoreacres says:

    They look like they belong in a kitschy film: terror-stricken citizens meeting very odd but mostly benign swamp plants. The variety’s intriguing: so many shapes, and so many colors and patterns. The algae does provide a nice background, and the view down into the water adds to the overall interest. I found this exchange in the Houston Chronicle, that I might have shared in the past:

    Question: “Can you find skunk cabbage in the Houston, Texas area?”
    Answer: “No, but why should you want to?”

    I think your photo shows why we might want to.


    • Your comment reminded me of this film that I actually only know about and never saw.
      Everyone hears skunk and becomes revolted. It really is a handsome plant with huge leaves that have strong veining and texture. Just don’t break a leaf. Of course, babies are always cute.


  10. Pingback: 03.23.2021 A skunk in a seep | Stephen Gingold Nature Photography Blog

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