skunk cabbage

skunk cabbage
1. a low, fetid, broad-leaved North American plant, Symplocarpus foetidus, of the arum family, having a brownish-purple and green mottled spathe surrounding a stout spadix, growing in moist ground.
2. a related plant, Lysichiton americanum, of western North America, having a cluster of green leaves and a spike of flowers surrounded by a yellow spathe.
[1745-55, Amer.]

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Any of three species of plants that grow in temperate bogs and meadows, emitting unpleasant odours as they grow.

The eastern North American skunk cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus, of the arum family) has large fleshy leaves, purple-brown spathes, and a skunklike odour. The western, or yellow, skunk cabbage (Lysichiton americanum), also an arum, bears a large yellow spathe and is found from California to Alaska and eastward to Montana. The third species, Veratrum californicum, is the poisonous corn lily, or false hellebore, of the lily family, which grows from New Mexico and Baja California northward to Washington State.

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plant
      any of three species of plants that grow in bogs and meadows of temperate regions. In eastern North America the skunk cabbage is Symplocarpus foetidus, which belongs to the arum family (Araceae, order Arales). In French-speaking parts of Canada it is called tabac du diable (“devil's tobacco”) or chou puant (“stinking cabbage”). It is a fleshy, herbaceous plant with large leaves, purple-brown spathes, and a skunklike odour; a variety grows in northeastern Asia. The ill-smelling western, or yellow, skunk cabbage (Lysichiton americanum), of the same family, having a large yellow spathe, is found from California to Alaska and eastward to Montana. Another skunk cabbage (Veratrum californicum) is the poisonous corn lily, or false hellebore, which grows from New Mexico and Baja California northward to Washington.

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Universalium. 2010.

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