This section is from the book "An Illustrated Flora Of The Northern United States, Canada And The British Possessions Vol1", by Nathaniel Lord Britton, Addison Brown. Also available from Amazon: An Illustrated Flora of the Northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions. 3 Volume Set..
[Symplocarpus Salisb.; Nutt. Gen. 1: 105. 1818.]
A fetid herb, with large ovate cordate leaves, thick straight rootstocks and a short erect partly underground scape. Spathe swollen, shell-like, thick, pointed, completely enclosing the spadix. Spadix globose or oblong, short-stalked, entirely covered by the perfect flowers. Perianth of 4 hooded sepals. Filaments slightly dilated; anthers 2-celled, short, extrorse, opening longitudinally. Ovary nearly buried in the tissue of the spadix, 1-celled with a solitary suspended anatropous ovule. Style pyramidal, 4-sided, thick, elongated; stigma minute. Berries immersed in the spongy axis of the spadix, becoming adnate to the succulent perianth in ripening, 1-seeded, forming large heads. Seeds large. Embryo large, fleshy; endosperm none. [Greek, referring to the spathe.]
A monotypic genus of eastern North America and northeastern Asia.
Dracontium foelidum L. Sp. PI. 967. 1753. Spathyema foetida Raf. Med. Rep. (II.) 5: 352. 1808. Symplocarpus foetidus Nutt. Gen. 1: 106. 1818.
Leaves numerous, in large crowns, 1°-3° long, often 1° wide, strongly nerved, abruptly acute at the apex, thin, entire, their petioles deeply channeled. Root-stock thick, descending, terminating in whorls of fleshy fibers; spathe preceding the leaves, erect, 3'-6' high, 1'-3' in diameter at the base, convolute, firm; purple-brown to greenish yellow, often mottled, its short scape usually subterranean, spadix about 1' in diameter in flower, greatly enlarging and sometimes 6' in diameter in fruit; mature seeds 4"-6" long.
In swamps and wet soil, Nova Scotia to Ontario and Minnesota, North Carolina and Iowa. Feb.-April. Skunk-weed. Meadow, Swamp- or Clumpfoot-cabbage. Pole-cat weed. Polk-weed. Collard. Fruit ripe Aug.-Sept.