Symplocarpus foetidus skunk cabbage Araceae SYFO; Bx, bg, br, pb, rd, vc (Z. Wang 2017); NY hb; Q, a; R, ah, ap (E. Danielsen 4/2017), ar, bd, cl, cp, ev, gb, h, js, lp, lt, pm, r, ro, t, w, wt;



Symplocarpus foetidus.M. B Gargiullo ( ca. 2009).

Symplocarpus foetidus is a perennial, monocotyledon herb; colonial from a thick rhizome, contractile roots pull plants downward into soil (Flora of North America 1993); all parts with skunk odor when crushed, sap irritating, flesh contains needle-like, insoluble calcium oxalate crystals that are very irritating to any herbivore attempting to eat the plant Kingsbury 1964). 

Leaves all basal, from rhizome, stalk 5-57 cm long, base sheathing, blade large, 30-60 cm long, egg-shaped, base lobed, appear as flowering ends in early spring and disappear by mid-late summer. 


Symplocarpus foetidus inflorescence.M. B Gargiullo  (ca 2009).

Flowers small, 4-parted, scattered on a fleshy, rounded spadix (flower spike) 8-12 cm diameter, arising at ground level from the rhizome, spike nearly surrounded by a fleshy bract (spath), spotted or striped with maroon, 8-15 cm tall, egg-shaped, tip sharply pointed and curving inward, decaying as fruit develops; blooms Feb.-Mar. before leaves arise; inflorescence produces heat via a biochemical process and can maintain a temperature of around 25º C despite colder environmental temperatures; heat also serves to emit the characteristic odor consisting of indole and amine and skatole compounds (Thorington 2000). The spadix can respond to environmental temperature changes of less than 1º C (Seymour 2004; Kikukatsu et al. 2004), inflorescence visited by flies, beetles and other insects, this is the most likely mode of pollination (Thorington 2000) one study also indicates pollination by wind (Flora of North America 1993), in any case fertilization rate is very low. 

Symplocarpus foetidus.© 2009 K. Chayks. Minnesota Wildflowers.

Symplocarpus foetidus.© 2009 K. Chayks. Minnesota Wildflowers. (Accessed 4/2015).

Fruit fleshy, dark purple-green to brown, 4-10 cm, (Flora of North America 1993) with a tile=like surface; pulp with mushroom odor, seeds ca 1 cm wide, embedded in spongy white flesh of spadix, fruit pulp eaten by some mammals (Gargiullo, personal observation), seeds eaten by wood ducks, Pheasant & Grouse (Martin et al. 1951).

Wetland status: OBL. 

Frequency in NYC: Frequent. 

Origin: Native, also parts of N. Asia. 

Habitat: Undisturbed swamps, swamp forests woodland stream corridors, moist to saturated soils, soil pH 4-7. 

Notes: Sheathed leaf buds often appear in autumn (Thorington 2000). Leaves emerge in spring well before tree canopy closure. 

Peltandra virginica arrow arum Araceae PEVI; Bx, br, bz, sf, pb, vc; NY, ct; Q, a, j; R, e, gb, h, ml, o, rw, wp;


Peltandra virginica.Robert W. Freckmann.Wisconsin State Herbarium

Peltandra virginica leaves and inflorescence.Robert W. Freckmann.Wisconsin State Herbarium

Peltandra virginica is a perennial, aquatic, monocotyledon herb, to about 40 cm tall, stemless, colonial from thick rhizomes. 

Leaves all basal, stalk 20-60 cm long often purplish, blade 10-45 cm long, 6-25 cm wide, arrow-shaped, with basal lobes flaring outwzard (hastate), thick, slightly fleshy, smooth, prominently 3-veined, from the insertion of the stalk, a central vein in each large, basal lobe, collecting vein around leaf margin. 

Flowers white to (occasional.) orange, minute, densely crowded on a fleshy inflorescence spike (spadix), 10-25 cm long, mostly hidden by narrow, cylindrical, pointed, green bract (spath) with a bulbous base, white margins of spath open as flowers bloom; inflorescence monoecious, male flowers along upper part of spike, female flowers on broader base; erect when blooming, becoming prostrate in fruit (Radford et al. 1968); blooms May-June; pollinated by Elachiptera formosa (Diptera: Chloropidae), a chloropid fly (Thompson, S. A. 1993+). 

Fruit fleshy berries, 0.6-1.5 cm wide, green to purplish, infructescence 3-6 cm wide, berries partly covered by base of spath; flesh slimy, brown, 1-3 seeded; often held under water surface by curved inflorescence stem; fruits Aug.-Sept.; seeds eaten by wood ducks and some other water birds. Fruit dispersed mostly by water, animals may also be dispersers (Thompson, S. A. 1993+). 

Wetland status: OBL. 

Frequency in NYC: Occasional. 


Peltandra.virginica. infructescence.© 2001 Janet ( Accessed 4/2014).

Origin: Native. 

Habitat: Open shallow water, pond edges, stream banks, soil pH 5.2-9.5, tolerant of anaerobic soil, moderately tolerant of shade, intolerant of drought, fire, salt, but does tolerate slightly brackish tidal areas (Thompson, S. A. 1993+; USDA, NRCS 2006). Often planted in wetland restorations and mitigations. 

Notes: The pollinating flies mate inside the inflorescence. Eggs are deposited in the inflorescence, and larvae feed on the rotting male part of the spike. Native Americans used most parts of the plant as food (Thompson, S. A. 1993+). Cooking or drying is necessary to destroy the calcium oxalate crystals that make the raw plant parts extremely irritating (Peterson 1977; Fern 2004). However a protein destroying enzyme or other chemical my be the primary cause of irritation (Thompson, S. A. 1993+).  

Arisaema triphyllum Jack-in-the-pulpit Araceae ARTR; Bx, bg, pb, vc, wv (Yost et al. 1991); NY, hb; Q, a, cu; R, bd, gb, h, lt, t;


Arisaema triphyllum

Arisaema triphyllum. inflorescence. M. B. Gargiullo ca 2009

Arisaema triphyllum is a perennial monocotyledon herb living to 25 years (Bierzychudek 1982), ca 3-20 cm tall, from an acrid corm containing sharp calcium oxalate crystals (Kingsbury 1964), roots grow out of the corm in spring as shoot emerges, and die back in late summer as aerial parts senesce and die; roots associated with VA mycorrhizas (Brundrett and Kendrick 1988), base of roots contractile. 

Leaves alternate, 3-parted, 2 leaves with 3 leaflets each, the leaf stalk (petiole) 30-60 cm long; small or young plants tend to be male, larger plants female, may change sex seasonally depending on resources, requires about 5 years to 1st reproduction (Bierzychudek 1984) 

Flowers greenish-white, minute crowded on a fleshy inflorescence spike (spadix); inflorescence bract (spath) brown-purple, arching over slender spadix, April-May, pollinated by fungus gnats and or thrips but most reproduction vegetative, 2-5 ramets per colony (Bierzychudek 1982). 

Arisaema triphyllum fruit

Arisaema triphyllum.fruit.M. B. Gargiullo ca 2009

Fruit red, fleshy, 1 cm, 1-seeded. Seed load 39%. Pulp nutrients: water 83%, lipid less than 1%, protein 6%, CHO 27% (White 1989). Pulp contains tiny, sharp calcium oxalate crystals. Fruit eaten by some birds, foliage eaten by pheasants (Martin et al. 1951). Dispersal to and establishment in new sites in successional forest, contiguous to old regrowth stands has been calculated at a rate of 1.43 m/yr (Matlack 1994). 

Wetland status: FACW-. 

Frequency in NYC: Occasional. 

Origin: Native. 

Habitat:Undisturbed moist woods and swamp forests and edges in good soil, fairly shade tolerant. Soil pH 4.8-7 but tolerates acid soil down to pH 3.9 (Greller et al. 1990). 

Notes: Sometimes infected by the rust fungus Uromyces ari-triphylli (Basidiomycotina, Hemibasidiomycetes) which can occasionally be lethal to the plant (Brundrett and Kendrick 1988; Agrios 1988).