01.05.2023 Thermospadix Thursday

Skunk Cabbage-Symplocarpus foetidus is the earliest flowering wildflower of the year.  As a matter of fact it sometimes flowers even before the year changes. It does this by creating its own heat through a chemical reaction between oxygen and the plant’s starch supply in the roots.  It is not rare to find the flowers, which precede the stinky leaves that give the plant its name, protruding through thin ice as in this picture or even popping up in snow as below.

These are from the archives. When I visited Quabbin Park last week I did find some  beginnings but there was no ice due to our warm temperatures and they did not make for an appealing image.


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 01.05.2023 Thermospadix Thursday

  1. This is something wintry you get to see (at least when the temperature cooperates) that we in Texas don’t.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Littlesundog says:

    It looks like something from a sci-fi movie! Interesting!

    Liked by 3 people

  3. melody says:

    Magical–and slightly spooky, like opening shoots from some horror movie? As long as they don’t say: “Feed me!” when you take their picture!

    I didn’t know any plant could generate heat, how amazing, and it’s skunk cabbage! We have them here on the West Coast, too, but they’re yellow flowering and nonthermogenic.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. shoreacres says:

    Did you make up the word ‘thermospadix’? The closest entry I could find involved thermal analysis of an Arum spadix. It’s a great word for describing the plant, though. I like both of the photos, but the one with the ice crystals sure does give a sense of what the skunk cabbage is capable of.

    When I read your title, the first thing that came to mind was Thermopylae. My 9th grade world history teacher would be pleased. He taught us Thermopylae was the site of a battle between Greek forces and Persian forces led by Xerxes. Today, I learned the place was named for the heat generated from local sulphur pools.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Caught me! 🙂 I haven’t made up a word in awhile so did a little looking around and came up with this for some alliteration. The snow does work better as an example although either snow or ice could happen around here in early spring.
      I didn’t know where the name Thermopylae came from aside from Greek history. And an interesting tie in for the city and the plant names. Thanks!

      Liked by 2 people

  5. I didn’t know that about skunk cabbage. That’s nature at its persevering best!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. picpholio says:

    Thanks for sharing, never seen it before.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I remember seeing skunk cabbage in the woods but did not know about it making its own heat.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Most people only see the leaves of skunk cabbage so are unaware that it can actually “bloom” in winter. It’s one of the few that flowers before it leafs out so needs the ability to warm itself in early spring…or even the depth of winter..

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Todd Henson says:

    It was 2 or 3 years back I saw my first skunk cabbage in this area, but I’ve not been back to that area since then. It’s a fascinating plant, both the the heat and the stink. Nice job creating appealing images of it.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Ann Mackay says:

    They have an unearthly look! The top image makes them seem very mysterious too.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Wally Jones says:

    I like both images.
    Colors, shapes, textures, patterns.

    This year – no skunk cabbage?
    That stinks.

    Liked by 1 person

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