Skunk Cabbage

 Skunk Cabbage, Photo Credit: Mike Floyd

Skunk Cabbage, Photo Credit: Mike Floyd

Skunk Cabbage is by far the strangest flower you'll ever come across in the Blue Ridge... it has a leathery rigid bloom that can work its way up through snow and ice in late February and early March by generating its own heat! This is known as thermogenesis, a process in which a plant produces heat above the air temperature through cyanide resistant cellular respiration!? A rare feat among plants! The bloom grows to between 2-5" tall and puts off a feces-like odor that attracts scavenging pollinators like winter stoneflies while keeping away large mammals that might destroy the bloom. The plant grows in soft soggy stream bottoms where you can often find it in large patches. It is peaking right now, so go check them out!