Skunk Cabbages and an alternate

Graham Rice
Wed, 07 Mar 2007 14:53:16 PST
We have wild Symplocarpus foetidus, with a surprising range of color 
patterns on the spathes, growing in wet soil alongside a small stream 
here in PA - up to about 25-30ft from the usual watercourse. The area 
is occasionally flooded for a day or two but plants do not grow in 
the usual line of the the stream itself, except on tussocks or rooty 
areas which accumulate humus and raise the plants above the usual 
water level.

The roots of this plant, by the way, are a favorite food for our 
black bears as they emerge from hibernation in spring. I presume that 
the smell guides them to the starchy roots. We often find 

John mentioned a fine clump at Kew... if he means the one that used 
to be near a waterfall towards the south end of the rock garden - I 
remember dividing that clump when I worked there in about 1974! The 
rock garden is very different now but I hope to be able to get to Kew 
during my forthcoming English trip so will try to check if that clump 
is still there. I even have an old slide of it - somewhere...

Graham Rice

>  >  My admittedly limited observations have led me to   wonder whether
>>it favors stagnant water.  Any comments?
>Dear Russell and all;
>	I have to limit myself to seeing plants growing in the wild.
>I sort of hate to say In the middle of a stream although I sort of
>already did.
>	I have seen both the American species in the middle of
>running water in spring, but I have seen the Eastern Symplocarpus in
>wet boggy spots and in fairly still pond edge sites.  I don't think
>they'd do well in say a garden pond, but I have seen plenty of pix of
>the Asian Lysichiton next to ponds or rice paddies. Some of these
>spots may just flood in spring and then run off and dry in summer.
>	I can't say I have had much luck growing any of them here
>where not are native or where the climate is drastically different.
>	I would like to add a word in favor of the 'quiet' relative
>Calla palustris. This is smaller and has less showy flowers than
>Lysichiton, but  showier than Symplocarpus and it definitely does
>well in still water. I've grown it in a wet tub. This isn't seen much
>in gardens or ponds, but I think it is easier and more tolerant of
>garden conditions.
>	I have never heard it called a skunk cabbage and the foliage
>does not have a foul odor, but has attractive shiny and heart shaped
>leaves and clear white 'calla' flowers. I just Googled a source and
>was surprised to find that it is available from Wim. Tricker Inc.
>This is a very old water plant business and glad to see it still
>		Best		Jim W.
>Dr. James W. Waddick
>8871 NW Brostrom Rd.
>Kansas City Missouri 64152-2711
>Ph.    816-746-1949
>Zone 5 Record low -23F
>	Summer 100F +
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