Friday, April 5, 2013

Hello Spring!


 
 
 
 
Perfect Moments:

  • It’s a breezy day in Juneau with temperatures in the mid-30’s.  The combination of the wind, the chill and the beauty left me breathless while I took the above photograph at Lena Beach.  My husband and I admired the view while Jeb danced up and down the beach leaving a half dozen pee-mail messages.  Dale admired the way the light sparkled off the surface of the chop and I contemplated the pattern of variegated blue hues in the waves.
  • The skunk cabbage are finally coming up in Juneau which means spring really has arrived! Every year I get skippy and silly when I see the first skunk cabbage and TODAY IT HAPPENED!  My friend Barbara Morgan agreed to let me share her skunk cabbage photograph with you.
 

Factoids:

  • While aboriginal peoples used skunk cabbage leaves to line baskets and wrap food for cooking (I’ve heard this makes for succulent baked salmon), you should NOT ingest the plant itself because it contains calcium oxalate crystals (toxic to humans, though apparently not to deer or bears) that damage mucous membranes and can lead to painful mouth sores and, according to some sources, death. 
  • Western Skunk Cabbage, Suymplocarpus foetidus (yup, ‘cause it’s fetid) is native to western North America, but even those of you in the U.K. may have seen it because it’s been cultivated as an ornamental lawn plant.   
  • Western Skunk Cabbage, also known as Swamp Lantern, has a distinctive musky odor that some folks claim is reminiscent of skunks and others folks of marijuana.  But don’t smoke skunk cabbage, okay?  The pungent scent of skunk cabbage mimics the smell of carrion to attract various flies that serve as the plant’s pollinators.
  • The central stem or flower stalk of skunk cabbage produces heat (thermogenesis) which explains why you can find these canary-yellow plants springing up through patches of melted snow. During thermogenesis skunk cabbage maintains a steady body temperature, similar to that of a small mammal, at as much as 40F higher than the surrounding environment!  Scientists speculate that thermogenesis helps spread that sweet carrion scent to attract insects.


I hope everyone had a marvelous Friday with many perfect moments!