It is a remarkable sight, as striking as it is unexpected: January skunk cabbages emerging from the frozen mires they call home, melting their way through snow and ice. It seems so improbable because in everyday experience plants exist at equilibrium with ambient temperatures. Leave an apple on the front seat of your car in summer, it gets hot; examine your tomato plants on that first frosty morning in autumn, and they are permeated with ice crystals. People, mammals and birds are inherently warm, and pretty much nothing else is. Except, of course, for the exceptions, of which skunk cabbage is one.

Document Type


Publication Date

Winter 2009

Publisher Statement

Copyright © 2009 Virginia Native Plant Society. This article was first published in Bulletin of the Virginia Native Plant Society 28:1 (2009), 1, 2, 6.

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