I was at the cabbage patch last Saturday morning, and was not disappointed. A great number of the odd arums had thrust forth, and many of the liver-spotted spathes were fully developed. There isn't much variation in blooming time. You can pretty well be assured of finding the skunks in bloom, at least at this patch, in the second or third week of February. This winter has been brutal, with lots of cold and extended snow and ice cover. Had I gone here the prior weekend, much of the quagmire probably would have been covered in a sheet of snow. Nonetheless, the Skunk-cabbage would have been pushing out of the muck even then. This plant is thermogenic, or capable of producing its own heat. That's a huge advantage when trying to get a big jumpstart on spring. I've written in more detail about the curious workings of Skunk-cabbage HERE.
By looking down into the gap in the spathe, we can see the club-shaped spadix. It is covered with very simple, tiny yellowish flowers. And there they are: The first true wildflowers of spring. Nothing grandiose, like a trillium, bluebell, or wood poppy, but these little flowers precede the better known and more conspicuous wildflowers by a month or more.
I dipped my finger into one of the fleshy hoods and brushed a spadix. And there's the proof of flowering, Skunk-cabbage pollen. Not only is this pollen evidence of the skunker's flowering, it is indisputable proof that spring has sprung - a far better and more accurate marker than the prognostications of some groundhog.