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The Plant from the Cretaceous Period Living in My Backyard

FYI, the Cretaceous Period was between 145.5 and 65.5 million years ago. This plant, practically unchanged during all these years, is called the Eastern Skunk Cabbage. Hardly noticeable in the wetlands, hated when accidentally crushed because of its awful smell, and slowly losing its habitat as bogs are eradicated, this plant has managed to survive employing most amazing strategies. It lives well out of everyone's way in the wetlands and bogs. It does not compete with the surrounding vegetation for sun - when its neighbors leaf out, the skunk cabbage is already done for the year. The earliest spring, sometimes even winter, is when the plant is in its full glory. Alien-looking dark-colored flower buds are the first thing to poke out of the mud, often before the vernal equinox in many locations and many times when there is still snow on the ground. What we, humans, see is the part of the flower called the spathe. It looks like a hood, never opens completely, and forms a protective enclosure around the ovoid spadix. The Skunk Cabbage has the most amazing mechanism to get comfortable in the cold temperature of winter and create favorable conditions for its bloom - the plant produces heat, increasing its own metabolism. We are talking up to 20 degrees higher than the chilly early spring air! So one very cold day I tested it - put my hand inside the spathe and indeed it was comfortably warm. Amazing! Well, the burdock plant gave us Velcro - maybe in the future skunk cabbage will teach our vegetable plants to create micro greenhouses around tender seedlings? Until scientists turn their exploratory minds to this amazing plant, every year skunk cabbage will dig its roots deeper into the bog, managing its own metabolism as it sees fit and heating its own flowers for early pollinators enjoyment.

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Beautiful farm! Great site!🙏



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