Scientific Name:
Symplocarpus foetidus
Toxic Parts:
oxalates raphides
Flower Color:
wetlands, moist hills

Geographical Distribution

Skunk cabbage distribution - United States

Skunk Cabbage

Symplocarpus foetidus

Eastern skunk cabbage i
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Skunk cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus) is a low growing plant which is known for its pungent odor made when it's leaves are damaged.

All parts of this plant contain raphides, which are tiny, needle-shaped crystals made up of calcium oxalate. When the plant tissues are damaged, the raphides shoot out the idioblasts, which act like tiny needles, cutting into the lining of the mouth, esophagus, and/or gastrointestinal tract of the bird. Since raphides also contain toxic proteins, the lacerations made by the raphides allow these compounds to enter through the wounds, causing intense pain and harm to the surrounding tissues.