• Skunk cabbage so soon?

    Question

    At The Rookery December 27 I saw several green skunk cabbage shoots. At least 3 were along the trail just past the boardwalk and one was farther along near the vernal pool where I first hear frogs in the spring. Is this usual or uncommonly early? Thanks.

    Naturalist's Response

    Skunk cabbage is a very hardy plant and can tolerate very cold temperatures. It may have started pushing through the wet soil this early because of the very warm temperatures we’ve had this December. I imagine it will slow down once the temperatures get really cold. It will be covered with snow and, in very late winter to early spring (late February-March), it will begin to flower and you will see the brownish flowers protruding from the snow. This plant can actually generate its own heat, which melts the snow and attracts the very few insects that are active in this early season. There’s just such a lot of interesting things about this plant that I could go on and on! Click here for a nice website where you can read more about this fascinating plant.

    -Naturalist Denise Wolfe