Nature Notebook – Skunk Cabbage Fruits

The sight of a chewed fungus is quite common but closer examination revealed that we were looking at a chewed skunk cabbage fruit. The calcium oxalate crystals within this plant’s tissues made this find quite a surprise.

The shrunken head-looking fruits can be seen nestled all over the mucky soil of wetlands. We usually leave them alone. However, this specimen had already been chewed open so we took a chance. No smell.

When we took apart another one we found several hard seeds within a thick potato-like fruit. A fruit becomes smelly as it matures and then falls apart to release the seeds. It is believed that small mammals and wood ducks eat these. Our chewed-up fruit had distinct small rodent teeth marks so it appears a squirrel harvested it before the smell developed.