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What a very peculiar plant.  Intriguing that it produces it's own heat!

Aplfgcnys@aol.com wrote:

>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
>>>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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