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Did You Know? Skunk Cabbage Generates Its Own Heat

skunk cabbage

Our earliest-blooming native plant, the flower of the bizarre skunk cabbage pushes up through the leaf litter (and often the snow) in March. It can even appear as early as mid-February.

The common name “skunk cabbage” apparently combines two of the stinkiest things its namer could think of, and indeed, the skunk cabbage flower has a noticeably skunky scent.

Perhaps most unusual, the skunk cabbage can generate its own heat, holding the air within its distinctive spathes (thick vegetable sheaths) at some 20 degrees above the surrounding air temperature. This power plant can even melt the snow around it.