Saturday, March 12, 2011

More Signs of Spring - Skunk Cabbage

I'm giving the ankle another week to rest, but we took a walk down to Rock Creek Park today.  The warm sun was a nice change from the cold rain of the past few days.  The park is so much greener than it was just a few weeks ago.

The first, if not the most attractive, wildflowers of the spring, Simplocarpus feotidus (Skunk Cabbage) were out in full force in the boggy area that the Valley Trail passes through near 17th street.  Some of the flowers had already faded.  Once the large leaves begin to emerge, the flowers quickly die off.  The skunk cabbage flower is typical of many burgundy flowers:  It is a carrion flower.  Carrion flowers emit an odor of decaying matter to attract insects for pollination.  The plants also warm the soil around them through a chemical reaction to both thaw the soil so they can emerge earlier than competing plants and to attract insects.  Pretty remarkable for such an odd looking little flower.

Pictures (click to enlarge):

S. foetidus (Skunk cabbage) along the Valley Trail in Rock Creek Park.

S. foetidus in its favorite habitat:  a mucky bog.

An interesting fungus

Crocuses growing along Beach Drive.

1 comment:

  1. Oooooh! I miss those plants. Is it too sad that I'm seein them only thru the internets?