Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Skunk Cabbage is in Bloom

Went out for a drive today when the sun was shining, and a beautiful blue sky.  Figured I'd get some nice photos of the valley.  But the best photos I got were actually down in the ditch - the skunk cabbage poking up through the snow.  These ones were on Sideroad 13 just around the corner from the 7th Line.

While we impatiently wait for spring, we tend to forget that some plants can handle a little snow just fine, thank you very much - just as some birds can.  Those robins, redwings, turkey vultures and grackles that have returned in the past week may be chilly, but they'll survive.  Skunk cabbage is actually adapted to poke up through the snow, the curved spike providing shelter and protection.

If you could look inside these almost closed reddish spikes that encase the flower, you would see a small yellow cylinder covered in florets, the skunk cabbage flower.  It must be the very first spring wildflower in this part of the country. The enclosing spike actually helps the flower by providing a tiny warmer micro-climate amidst the snow.

A foot away, where the snow has already melted, the yellowy-green leaves are already emerging as bright spikes.  They will turn into enormous wide green leaves a little like rhubarb or cabbage by the time the warm weather gets here.

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