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In a message dated 05/09/2005 6:41:43 PM Eastern Daylight Time,
4042N15@nationalhearing.com writes:
> > Donna kindly sent me a picture of skunk cabbage.  I think it's one of
> > those
> > plants that has to sort of grow on you, but it is interesting.  And I
> > love that self-protection temperature-control thing it has going..
> >
Kitty, I'm astonished that you don't know skunk cabbage.
Here is a piece I did for my club's newsletter a couple of
years ago.  It may be more than you want to know about
the subject - so just dump it if it is.

    Howeverb& We have our own native Arums, and they are really much more
attractive, and in a quiet way almost as exotic.  We all know and love
Jack-in-the-Pulpit, or Arisaema triphyllum.  This attractive native is much
manageable in size and lacks the unpleasant odor.  A. dracontium, or Green
Dragon, on
the NYS Protected Plant List, is somewhat more exotic in appearance.  And then
there is Symplocarpus foetidus, or Skunk Cabbage, that can match the
Amorphophallus genus in oddity and fragrance but is much more modest in size.

  Skunk Cabbage, is the very first sign of spring, often coming up right
through the snow. It shares with itbs near relatives in the Amorphopallus
the odor which is attractive to insects but not to humans. Also, the reddish
color of the newly-emerged plant resembles meat and helps to attract carrion
flies.  This smell, of course, accounts for the common name, and also for the
species name, foetidus, which means bevil smelling.b
   The inconspicuous flowers are borne on a knoblike spadix hidden within a
mottled green and purple hoodlike spathe. The genus name is from Greek words
meaning bconnected fruitb and refers to the fruiting stalk which is the
of the ovaries growing together.   As the skunk cabbage spathe grows, it
produces heat.  Temperatures within the buds of the plant have been recorded
to be
27o F. warmer than that of the surrounding air.  This helps protect the bud
from very cold weather and intensifies the odor, making it more attractive to
pollinators which include some of springbs earliest flying insects; flies,
beetles and bees.
  The luxuriant foliage that follows later can make an attractive background
for ferns and other moisture-loving plants in a damp area of the garden.  It
has also been used in flower arrangements.  If conditioned by total immersion
in a tub or large pan, it loses its faint bskunkyb scent and has an
color and texture.
  Like Goldenrod (Solidago spp.) another plant without honor in its home
country but prized abroad, Skunk Cabbage has been admired in European gardens
since John Bartram, the Philadelphia botanist, and friend of Ben Franklin sent
specimens to the London Natural History Museum in the 1740s.
   Native Americans made the raw root of Skunk Cabbage into a salve to
relieve the pain and swelling of arthritis.  Boiled, the root was used in a
syrup.  Skunk Cabbage was listed in the U.S.Pharmacopea in the 19th century,
is still listed on a Holistic Medicine website as treatment for tuberculosis
whooping cough, asthma, and various other bronchial and lung disorders.  At
one time it was considered as a contraceptive, and also thought to cure
    Although Skunk Cabbage is listed as a poisonous plant in a North Carolina
State University website, recipes are given for preparing it to eat. The
young, uncurled leaves should be cooked for 20 minutes, changing the water at
least twice and replacing with fresh, boiling, salted water. These are served
other bspring greens.b  The roots are very bitter and burning in their raw
state.  Peeled, cut into small pieces and roasted in an oven for an hour, they
may be ground into a flour and added to bread dough or muffin batter.
  Other species in the large and unusual Arum family are Alocasias,
Anthriums, Callas, Caladiums, Colocasias, Dieffenbachias, Philodendrons, and

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