Skunk cabbage has a bright yellow lantern-shaped flower that grows 25 centimetres tall from the base of its large green leaves. It has a strong “skunk” smell that attracts pollinating insects.
RANGE & HABITAT
It grows in swampy and moist areas in North America from Alaska to California. In B.C., this plant is found in the Coast and Mountains and Georgia Lowlands ecoprovinces.
Skunk cabbage is a perennial plant and it is one of the earliest flowers to bloom. In March or April a yellow flower and spike can be seen poking out of the wet areas where it is found. Bees pollinate the flowers in late spring, and the green leaves are usually not seen until a week after the flowers appear.
Black bears eat the plant in spring as a laxative.
TRADITIONAL FIRST NATIONS USES
The roots were steamed and eaten and used for medicine. The leaves were used for packaging and serving food.
Few people eat skunk cabbage leaves because they have stinging crystals in them that burn the mouth and throat.
COSEWIC: Not at Risk