Stinky Swamp Cabbage

skunk_cabbageMy November’s Illustration

These hooded flowers have the creep factor nailed from looks to smell. They are this month’s featured illustration.

Symplocarpus foetidus is known by many names: Skunk Cabbage, Clumpfoot Cabbage, Meadow Cabbage, Polecat Weed, and Swamp Cabbage. It is a stinky, smelly plant that grows in the wetlands in North America and parts of Asia. It flowers just above the mud keeping its stem buried below the surface. It’s a thermogenic plant, which means it has the ability to raise its temperature above that of the surrounding air. This allows it to melt snow and ice so it may bloom.

To all my brethren busy stuffing themselves with turkey, candied yams, and pumpkin pie, Happy Thanksgiving. To everyone else, Happy Thursday.

illustration by me!

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  1. Fascinating. I love reading about and hearing about flowers with such particular details and “special powers.” Thanks for the post–it's creepy indeed but also really beautiful, and in a way, perfect for Thanksgiving. What a resourceful and inspiring plant.

  2. Happy Thanksgiving.:) The illustration is lovely (even if the flower does smell…)

  3. That is indeed a creepy plant. It looks like if Yellow Bastard from Sin City tried wearing a Death Eater's robes. I like the power it has though. ThermoPlant!

  4. Fascinating plant–although it does smell pretty bad. 😛

    Have a great Thanksgiving day!

  5. It looks like a flame, so it's neat that it can raise its temperature. I'm waking up to some blogging buddies and drinking a cup of coffee before I attack the bird.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  6. As smelly as it might be, that is how beautiful it looks. Nice image.

  7. I had heard of Skunk Cabbage before but didn't know what it looked like. Thanks. Hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving too.

    Thoughts in Progress

  8. I could use some of those flowers to melt all of the snow and ice where I live. Happy Thanksgiving.

  9. Find you through Hilary. This image reminds me of Korean kimchi. Amazing how many edible flowers tantilize the human tastebuds and stimulate the expanding imagination.

  10. I'd heard of this plant before but never saw a picture of it. Kinda creepy.

    Thanks for the Thanksgiving wishes. I hope you had a wonderful day.

  11. They are beautiful and creepy! I have to say I've never smelled one before! Should I? 🙂

  12. Interesting image. They look like a jungle flower that entices their victims with a sweet odor or beautiful singing, then eat their unwary prey. Okay, I need coffee to wake up.

  13. Wow I've never seen a flower like that. I agree–totally creepy.

    Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

  14. That's very cool. I know zero about plants, but I love the idea that it can raise it's temperature.

  15. I think I ate some skunk cabbage at a restaurant in Texas once? 🙂


  16. which… stinky or not, makes it sort of cool, ne? I'd rather be stinky and warm than frozen. I'll say that much. (also seems an interesting literary detail where they grow, ne?

  17. Sounds like it has really adapted well. It smells so people are likely to cut it for house flowers and it can survive and get sun in cold weather. Sounds like a plant to be praised.

  18. Why, you are just a wealth of knowledge! 🙂

    Thanksgiving was enjoyable and “tasty.” Hope yours was too.

  19. Rayna M. Iyer said…
    To me, that looks more like a Halloween flower than a Thanksgiving one!

    And thank you, for making my life more meaningful.

  20. Hilary Melton-Butcher said…
    Hi .. what a wonderful plant – despite its smell! Isn't nature wonderful that it can adapt to conditions .. I'd never heard of a plant (thermogenic plant) that could melt its surroundings .. so it could flower .. thanks really interesting ..

    Have a good Thanksgiving .. Hilary

  21. Alex J. Cavanaugh said…
    Happy Thanksgiving! And a wonderful illustration. I prefer your beautiful painting to the real thing!

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