Spring arrived in April

skunk cabbageIt was a mild winter. The skunk cabbage seemed to just survive the snow, with frost-blackened tips. In early April, creatures were waking up. Here, a skunk cabbage hood (spathe) showing the spadix inside (the flower head).

garter snakeAlso a garter snake adventuring, and best of all, there were a glorious few days of peepers. When I recorded this, they were so loud, and there were so many layers of sound, and individual voices. Wonderful. Not long after this, we had a spate of severe cold and snow and the peepers were noticeably quiet.

Skunk Cabbage Leaves

SkunkCabbageLeavesThe first wildflower of the season is transitioning from flowers to leaves. The maroon flowers/spears come up through the snow. They’re kind of like mammals; they convert glucose to heat so they can emerge in the late winter months. Then the spadix and spathe wither away and these stout green leaves emerge. Native to the wetlands of eastern North America

Skunk cabbage, Symplocarpus foetidus

Skunk cabbage is the first

skunk cabbage 1 We first noticed the skunk cabbage emerging on February 16. Even though there had been a blizzard and there was snow everywhere else, this is a protected swampy spring-fed area, and the shoots were emerging up through the ooze, looking very primordial and eager to get on with it. This is their bloom, before they leaf out later in spring. From Wikipedia: “Eastern Skunk Cabbage has contractile roots which contract after growing into the earth. This pulls the stem of the plant deeper into the mud, so that the plant in effect grows downward, not upward. Each year, the plant grows deeper into the earth, so that older plants are practically impossible to dig up.” (I started this blog with photos from this location last March.)

Eastern Skunk Cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus)

Skunk cabbage in muck

Skunk cabbage first appearance: Feb 16, 2013

Bonus picture: except for down in the swamp, the snow blanket prevails.

Ridge Hill in the Snow