The appearance of skunk cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus) is an early sign of spring.

Where to find it

Wet woods, lowlands and swamps. There are good populations in the Matthaei Botanical Gardens, Nichols Arboretum, Parker Mill County Park, Hudson Mills Metropark, Redbud Nature Area and other wet places in the county.

In the news

There are several signs of spring in Ann Arbor to me - the sound of redwing blackbirds, the massive melting of snow, and the opening of the Dairy Queen on West Stadium. But nothing gives an earlier, more reliable sign of spring than the rise and bloom of skunk cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus). This amazing little native plant burns its way through the snow with the heat of its own metabolic reactions and attracts the attention of early flies, bees and other insects to its weird little flowers for pollination with its pungent odor (it’s scientific species name “foetidus” gives a clue to the stinky odor that gives it its name) and warmth within its leaves.

  • Skunk Cabbage, 2008 Ann Arbor Natural Area Preservation contest entry.