TRR photo by Ed Wesely
Skunk cabbage flowers are opening. (click for larger image)

Skunk cabbage flowers (early March). As is common this time of year, skunk cabbage, which favors wetlands, is opening hood-like receptacles, called "spathes," that allow flies to visit its floral structures. The process began during warm, bright days in late February, and on my road plants are already receiving pollinators.

The carrion smell, which led to the name, attracts many fly species. But lamentably for the colony where I took the photograph, it also attracts black bears, which are ravenously hungry after leaving their dens this time of year.

During early March the past two years, a bear, probably a male, has devastated stands of skunk cabbage up and down my road. Generally, the hoods that contain the flowers will be sliced off as if by a scythe.

Click here to view a skunk cabbage spathe ravaged by this bear in March, 2003.

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