A Winter Flower:
Swamp or Skunk Cabbage

By William T. Hathaway

Skunk Cabbage

A bog is defined as wet, spongy ground, characterized by decaying mosses or other plants. Some bogs may be similar to a slough or place, as a hollow, full of soft, deep mud. Few of us would expect to see any flowers growing in such a place during winter and very early spring. The Swamp or Skunk Cabbage defies cold conditions and relies on a few warm days to crank up its rapid stage of growth.

Although quite common in our mountains and in northern states, this species is mostly found north of the White Oak Mountain range within our local area. Camouflaged hoods have already appeared in a few sites. In the warmer days of March some area bogs will host hundreds of flowering hoods (top photo). A week or so later the leaves will unfurl across the bogs, reminding one of a wondrous cabbage patch.