Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Swamp lantern

Weeks and weeks of rain, then a few half-sunny days, cold nights; it's skunk cabbage time! Along the highway to the north, open patches are spotted with them, like yellow flames in the grass.

Young skunk cabbage in a soggy field.

A small section of the field.

So very yellow.

Later on in the summer, the yellow spathes* will be faded and splotchy, the spadices** darker and covered with critters: flies, beetles, snails, slugs; they are attracted to the scent, like that of skunks, but not quite as throat-constricting.  And the leaves, just starting out here, will be enormous, up to a metre and a half long, shading the roots and the grass, holding in the moisture.

The plant flowers more profusely in sunny water meadows, like this one.

*Spathe: the modified leaf that forms a cowl around the flowering stalk.
**Spadix: the flowering stalk.

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