Spring smells like skunk

American skunk cabbage (Lysichiton americanus) is blooming in the wet woods along the west shore. The large yellow blooms are a welcome flash of color, and it really smells like a skunk! However pollinators like bees and butterflies love it. Beetles are keen to hook up in the musky flowers.


The leaves were used as a food and burn poultice by Native Americans, but the plant is toxic if not prepared correctly. Beware! If eaten raw, the mouth and digestive tract feel as though hundreds of needles are being stuck into it. The toxin calcium oxalate is destroyed by thorough cooking or drying.

You can see this intriguing plant from the road about half a mile south from the Willows Inn on West Shore Drive. This is private property, please respect the land.