Marja-Leena Rathje
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Easter yellow




On our walk the other day past the boggy area of our favourite forest park, we found an exceptional group of Swamp Lanterns aka Western Skunk Cabbage. I think the latter name is an insult to the beauty of this plant and it does not smell skunky either. The flower reminds me of the Peace Lily - sure enough, they are both part of the large Arum family. And are not the peace lily and another arum, the calla not often used at Easter?

Marja-Leena | 24/04/2011 | 7 comments
themes: Nature, Photoworks


What a striking plant, it looks a little like something hatching from an egg... Happy Easter!

Marja-Leena, I have a very vivid memory both the skunk cabbage and the skunk. The skunk I met on the way to home with two other people and one dog, Kitchie. Kitchie was stupid enough to run after the sound of the animal, got sprayed, and poor me I was sleeping on the sleeping bag outside the tent (hot august night). Kitchie came yiping back from the bushes and buried her sore nose on me and my sleeping bag.

We were someplace in prairie state in Canada, on our way to New York. So rest of the journey I had to travel with the stinking dog next to me in the back seat, as there was a couple on the front seats.

I swear the skunk cabbage smelled a lot same, The Finnish name for the plant (the non-smelling variant) is vehka and is related to kalla.

I ended up then back home via Copenhagen, where I finally managed to air out the sleeping bag a little, staying over there for two weeks with my friend. Then from Copenhagen to home. But even there on the ship deck (no money to get a cabin), I got miraculously empty spaces around myself when I climbed to my sleeping bag.

I take my words back. It can of course be, that you have in your garden the non-smelling variant, vehka. I met the true skunk cabbage in some Cascades National park.

Lucy, the unopen flower does look rather like an egg. Hope you are having a happy Easter too!

Ripsa, wow, that's quite a story about the skunked dog and sleeping bag. I'd have thrown it (the bag, and maybe dog) away! We have friends whose dogs would get themselves sprayed by skunks and they would bathe them with a special solution from the vet or with tomato juice. As for this plant, maybe certain weather conditions make it 'smellier' but I don't think I've ever experienced it as strong as a skunk, and we do have skunks around here!

And no, it's not in my garden. The non-skunky vehka or kalla you mention is the bog arum common in northern regions of Canada and Europe. The garden variety of calla lilies are popular here.

I just learned that the plant with the foulest smelling flower ever, the corpse flower is a relation! There's one in bloom right now in Switzerland and I recall one somewhere in England made similar headlines a couple of years ago or so. Isn't the plant world amazing!?

They are very strange and beautiful plants which you caught at the perfect time. Speaking of catching, I have a husband who is quite allergic so every time my peace lily grew a flower I'd trim off the flower before the pollen formed. The plant was nice enough without them.

I learned from bitter experience in Montreal that tomato juice does work on a skunked dog when my friends lowered cans of it from the fire escape of our loft one night after his first and last run-in with one. I don't know how you'd manage that with a sleeping bag.

Susan, I would trim my peace lily flower just as the pollen starts to make a mess. No allergies to it, thankfully (sorry for your husband's). Somewhere buried deep in my archives is such a photo of a peace lily flower...

Your skunked dog experience sounds quite memorable! I remember your stories and drawings about life in Montreal on your other blog but not this event.

That is such a pretty flower and grows on the Oregon coast, too.
I am worried about your election, too.

Hattie, yes, it's quite exotic looking, isn't it? Thanks for your concern, I well remember your supportive comments two years ago during the last election.