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Skunk Cabbage Video Stock Footage

Eastern skunk cabbage has leaves which are large, 40–55 cm (16–22 in) long and 30–40 cm (12–16 in) broad. It flowers early in the spring when only the flowers are visible above the mud. The stems remain buried below the surface of the soil with the leaves emerging later. The flowers are produced on a 5–10 cm (2–4 in) long spadix contained within a spathe, 10–15 cm (4–6 in) tall and mottled purple in colour. The rhizome is often 30 cm (0.98 ft) thick. Eastern skunk cabbage is notable for its ability to generate temperatures of up to 15–35 °C (27–63 °F) above air temperature by cyanide resistant cellular respiration in order to melt its way through frozen ground, placing it among a small group of thermogenic plants. Even though it flowers while there is still snow and ice on the ground, it is successfully pollinated by early insects that also emerge at this time. Some studies suggest that beyond allowing the plant to grow in icy soil, the heat it produces may help to spread its odor in the air. Carrion-feeding insects that are attracted by the scent may be doubly encouraged to enter the spathe because it is warmer than the surrounding air, fueling pollination.

Learn more about Skunk Cabbage

Plantae: Tracheophyta: Alismatales: Not Assigned: Araceae: Symplocarpus foetidus

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