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Skunk Cabbage

( Symplocarpus foetidus )

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Skunk Cabbage
Araceae
Symplocarpus
Symplocarpus foetidus
(Linnaeus) Salisbury ex W.P.C. Barton
ON, QC, NB, NS
Characteristics

Wildflower

Deciduous

Wet

No

No

No

No
Habitat Considerations

Atlantic Maritime, Mixedwood Plains

Woodland, Swamp/Marsh, Bog/Fen

Woodland
Design Considerations

30 cm

60 cm

Feb - May

Green/Brown

Yes







Yes


No
Conservation Status



Interesting Tidbits

Flower spadix in purple-brown hood. Flower appears before leaves. Through a chemical process, flower can heat itself to about 15 degrees Celcius. This allows it to 'burn' its way through snow cover. Sometimes called first flower of spring. Leaves exude foetid odour when crushed. POISONOUS PARTS: All parts except uncurled leaves and roots. Toxic only if eaten in large quantities. Symptoms include burning and swelling of lips, tongue, and throat; nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea may also occur. Toxic Principle: Calcium oxalate crystals and possibly others. EDIBLE PARTS: Young, uncurled leaves and roots. Collect the bright green, unfurled leaves in the very early spring. FOOD PREPARATION: Soak young shoots and roots in warm water to remove dirt and debris. Do not use dish detergent or any type of sanitizer. Carefully handle leaves after collecting. Bruised leaves will give off an unpleasant smell. The smell disappears after cooking. Cook for 20 minutes, change the water at least twice and replace with fresh, boiling salted water. Serve like greens. Roots are very bitter and burning in their raw state. Peel, cut into small pieces, roast in an oven for at least one hour and grind in a flour or coffee grinder until quite fine. Add to bread dough or muffin batter. (Poisonous Plants of N.C.)


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