Where Do The Skunk Cabbage Go

Posted: August 27, 2015 in Uncategorized
When I started out in photography and searching the swampy wooded areas near my home, I found this great plant called a Skunk Cabbage. That’s a perfect name for this plant because if you rub the leaves with your fingers, the smell left on your fingers will remind you of a skunk, not good.
I’ve found that the large leaves have great deep veined patterns that make for really nice backgrounds and also good as abstracts.
The plants totally engulfs a swampy area in the woods, so much that when the leaves are fully grown you can no longer see the ground beneath them. This was shot in early spring so they are not quite fully grown yet.



I mentioned they make great abstracts, and when you backlight one of the leaves with the sun, this is what you get. Look how the veins pop.

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I also mentioned that the leaves make great backgrounds for other subjects, and I have used them many times for that purpose. This is one of my favorites using the Skunk Cabbage for a background.



One year in the late fall I was walking through an area that earlier had thousand of Skunk Cabbage plants, and I was surprised that the ground was not clutter in the large leaves of the Skunk Cabbage. We see leaves from trees lying all over the ground but no evidences that the Skunk Cabbage were ever there. I was quite puzzled by this, so did a little research online and found that these large leaves actually melt or disintegrate away, and leave absolutely no trace. What a cool plant. Here we are in mid August and the leaves are starting to die off.



Here are a few of the leaves that are slowly melting away to nothing. If you live near wooded swampy areas, see if you can find the Skunk Cabbage plants.


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  1. Donna Frasca says:

    I had to laugh when you said “great plant” but then you said it smelled like skunk. Funny, I’d never put “great” and “skunk” in the same sentence – funny! I know that plant, it looks cool but smells so bad!!!!

  2. Doris Gage-West says:

    Very interesting, Mike. I have a small patch near a vernal pool in my woods, will have to watch it next spring.

  3. Elizabeth P Lawlor says:

    as always, I love your work….this one particularly strikes home….I have always loved these plants.( not their smell) but we have to take it all especially when the cold of winter begins to warm Thanks Liz

  4. Kat Enns says:

    Hi Mike, well you KNOW I have to chime in, right? Lysichitum americanum (skunk cabbage) is a species very much like a lot of wetland perennials, and almost all temperate region perennial plants. They die back at the end of the season, when the water table drops, but the starchy tuber and or root in other plants remains just under the surface. If the wetland doesnt innundate with water again in mid winter to spring, it can remain dormant for a few years. Other plants that do that include the wetland grasses, sedges, rushes, reeds, lily pads, etc, and you can see the dead stems and leaves there for a while but even these break down under the snow. Plants rule, right?

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