The First Flower of Spring

Skunk cabbage, aka Symplocarpus foetidus, is sometimes called the first flower of Spring. It’s not surprising that its flowers never fully emerge from their protective hoods (spathes)- because we know how cold and damp it STILL is in New England. Skunk cabbage has always been something I’ve alternately ignored or feared- especially if it’s encroaching on my gardens. It smells awful (exactly like a skunk) and lives in muck. My friend and nutritionist Alison Birks describes its habitat well in her poem: Symplocarpus Flowers in Spring– “A fetid odor wafts over tangled root masses– over dead leafy thick mats– over
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