Medicinal Plants, Pacific Northwest
A bad scented perennial plant 25 to 50 cm tall, of the arum family, having large, cabbage like leaves, surrounding a bright yellow flower and a disagreeable smell. The large tuberous root-stock produces fleshy roots and heart-shaped, cabbage like leaves on thick leafstalks. Numerous small, purple flowers grow on a small, oval, fleshy spike covered by a purple and yellowish-green, hood. Flowering time is from February to April, before the leaves appear. The whole plant emits a skunk or garlic odor.
In the north, the unusual reddish green blooms of Skunk Cabbage Plant are among the first wildflowers to appear in spring, in February to May.
The roots of skunk cabbage plant have been used to treat respiratory ailments, including: hay fever, asthma, whooping cough, bronchial problems, and mucous congestion. It is helpful for nervous disorders, spasmodic problems, rheumatism, and dropsy. Some first peoples boiled the root hairs to make a wash for stopping external bleeding. Some inhaled the odor of the crushed leaves to cure headache or toothache . A poultice made from the root was used for wounds, underarm deodorant; and a poultice made from the leaves was used to reduce swelling, they ate the root to stop epileptic seizures.
Very reliable in the treatment of tuberculosis, fevers, whooping cough, epilepsy, convulsions, and pleurisy. Excellent remedy in dysentery, convulsions, dropsy, hysteria, epilepsy, and for use during pregnancy.
When made into an ointment, it greatly relieves the pain of all external tumors and bed sores.