Who is that early spring beauty? Skunk Cabbage!


Skunk Cabbage! Native to Eastern North America, one if the earliest plants of spring is skunk cabbage, Symplocarpus foetidus.  Known for its fetid odor and large leaves, some individuals have made the mistake of eating it as a raw salad.  Don’t!  The leaves contain calcium oxalate crystals which are an extreme irritant and can cause severe pain, swelling, difficulty swallowing or even breathing.

Skunk cabbage was at one time listed in the U.S. Pharmacopeia as the drug dracontium.  The root was used by both Native Americans and the Eclectics in combination with other herbs for damp conditions such as respiratory illness, rheumatism, and edema.

Bevin Clare