This post is about Eastern Skunk Cabbage; there are no wildlife pics (sorry), just images (4) of the first native spring wildflower to bloom in this part of northern Illinois. Earlier this week I went out searching to see if there were any Symplocarpus foetidus poking up through the fen and moist forest floor of a local Illinois Nature Preserve in Kane County, and sure enough there were a few beginning to emerge in all their glory and stinkiness.
Even though it has been very cold and snow-covered the last few weeks, this doesn’t matter since this unique flower can create its own heat inside the spathe (the wine-colored hood) where it can be as much as 36 degrees warmer than the surrounding air. This heat along with its smell (skunk-like and/or rotting meat) attracts the pollinators, mostly flies but sometimes bees. By May, the skunk cabbage leaves are quite beautiful and can grow up to 1 by 2 feet and when backlit by the sun are quite the sight, especially when in abundance.
There are many cool facts about skunk cabbage, and if so inclined, do a quick search and you’ll read about some of the other interesting tidbits (a perfect flower – male and female parts, where to find them, and many others). Here’s one article: https://will.illinois.edu/environmentalalmanac/program/on-the-hunt-for-first-flower-of-spring