Wildflowers, Plants and Ferns, Pacific Northwest
The Skunk Cabbage flower is a perennial plant up to 50 cm tall, a member of the arum family, it has large, cabbage like leaves that surround a bright yellow flower, it has a disagreeable smell. The large tuberous root stock produces fleshy roots and heart shaped, cabbage like leaves on thick stalks. 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, it flowers before the leaves appear. The whole plant emits a skunk or garlic odor.
In the north, the unusual reddish green blooms of skunk cabbage are among the first wildflowers to appear in spring. February to May. Temperature within the flower is often 20 degrees c. higher than the ambient air; the flower sometimes will melt the snow as it begins to bloom. Looks pretty cool.
The roots of skunk cabbage flower 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. One tribe inhaled the odor of the crushed leaves to cure headache or toothache. A poultice made from the root was used for wounds, or it can be used as an 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 tuberculosis, chronic catarrh, 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, Skunk Cabbage greatly relieves the pain of all external tumors and sores.