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Skunk Weed Symplocarpus foetidus

Phonetic Spelling
sim-plo-KAR-pus FET-uh-dus
This plant has medium severity poison characteristics.
See below
Description

Skunk Cabbage is a perennial herb in the Araceae family with large, heart shaped foliage.  Its name originates from its appearance, Symplocarpus translating to 'connected fruits', while foetidus refers to the plant's unpleasant odor. 

Its flowers, which appear before the leaves, are small and form in a greenish-yellow spadix or spike surrounded by a red-purple-brown spathe or sheath.  The flowers have the ability to chemically heat themselves giving the plant the ability to melt its way through snow, earning the recognition as the first flower of spring.  Although they are attractive and bloom early, the flowers as well as the leaves have a foul smell if bruised.  This odor is said to have the scent of decaying flesh which lures insects who pollinate the plant.  

Typically found in bogs, swamps, wet meadows, and very wet woods its native habitat includes swamps and muddy locations.  Once planted, its roots firmly take hold, making transplanting extremely difficult.  Its future may be threatened by the decline in wetlands in some locations.


Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems:  No serious issues with diseases or insects. 

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#poisonous#water garden#low growing#perennials#wetlands#fast growing#herbaceous#NC native#spadix#herbaceous perennials#native garden#reseeds#native wildflower#wildflower garden#wet soils tolerant#wetland margins#problem for cats#problem for dogs#problem for horses#native
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#poisonous#water garden#low growing#perennials#wetlands#fast growing#herbaceous#NC native#spadix#herbaceous perennials#native garden#reseeds#native wildflower#wildflower garden#wet soils tolerant#wetland margins#problem for cats#problem for dogs#problem for horses#native
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Symplocarpus
    Species:
    foetidus
    Family:
    Araceae
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Eastern Canada to North Central & Eastern U.S.A
    Distribution:
    CT, DC, DE, IA, IL, IN, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, NC, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, TN, VA, VT,m, WI, WV
    Wildlife Value:
    Birds are attracted to this plant, as well as some herbivores.
    Play Value:
    Attracts Pollinators
    Colorful
    Wildlife Food Source
    Edibility:
    The uncurled leaves and roots are edible.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 2 ft. 0 in. - 3 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 2 ft. 0 in. - 4 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Ground Cover
    Herb
    Native Plant
    Perennial
    Poisonous
    Wildflower
    Habit/Form:
    Clumping
    Creeping
    Horizontal
    Prostrate
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Dappled Sunlight (Shade through upper canopy all day)
    Deep shade (Less than 2 hours to no direct sunlight)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Frequent Standing Water
    Moist
    Available Space To Plant:
    12 inches-3 feet
    NC Region:
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    4b, 4a, 5b, 5a, 6b, 6a, 7b, 7a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Black
    Brown/Copper
    Green
    Purple/Lavender
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Summer
    Fruit Length:
    > 3 inches
    Fruit Width:
    > 3 inches
    Fruit Description:
    The fruits emerge after the flower blooms. The 4" x 3" fruits start out green, turn to a dark purple and later a dark color before disintegrating. Each fruit contains a 1/3" seed which if not removed from the plant can fall to the ground, where it is likely to germinate.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Purple/Lavender
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Spadix
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Winter
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    Fleshy purple to reddish-brown spathe wraps around a heavy round spadix. Tiny 1/4" flowers grow near the ground on the spadix. Each flower has 4 sepals and its reproductive organs. Flies are attracted to an odor that is emitted from the blooms. Foul, skunk-like odor.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Type:
    Sheath
    Leaf Shape:
    Cordate
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Width:
    < 1 inch
    Leaf Description:
    Large ovate to cordate (heart-shaped), ribbed/veined leaves. Broad at the base. They are produced after flowering. They will wither away by summer's end.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Container
    Meadow
    Near Septic
    Pond
    Slope/Bank
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Edible Garden
    Native Garden
    Rain Garden
    Rock Garden
    Shade Garden
    Water Garden
    Winter Garden
    Design Feature:
    Border
    Mass Planting
    Attracts:
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Wet Soil
    Problems:
    Problem for Cats
    Problem for Dogs
    Problem for Horses
  • Poisonous to Humans:
    Poison Severity:
    Medium
    Poison Symptoms:
    Burning and swelling of the lips, tongue, and throat. Nausea, excessive drooling, vomiting (not horses), difficulty swallowing, and diarrhea may also occur.
    Poison Toxic Principle:
    Calcium oxalate crystals plus unknown toxins
    Causes Contact Dermatitis:
    No
    Poison Part:
    Bark
    Flowers
    Fruits
    Leaves
    Roots
    Sap/Juice
    Seeds
    Stems