Golden Club (Orontium Aquaticum)is also our only member of its genus. As you will see by the opposite picture, there is no protective spathe for the golden floral club, yet it flourishes equally as well as its more fortunate relatives.
The florets are complete, having six sepals and stamens; they are set closely on the swollen spadix and attract many flies and even water snails that cross-fertilize them simply by crawling over the clubs.
While there is no apparent spathe about the flower spike, it appears a little lower on the stem as a leaflike, sheath. The leaves of the Golden Club are pointed oblong in shape, floating on the surface of the water by means of long stems from the perennial rootstalk. Flowers in May from Mass. to Fla. and westwards.
The Common Skunk Cabbage (Symplocarpus Foetid Us)although regarded by many only with disgust, has one claim that cannot be disputed, that of being our first flower to bloom each year. It is not uncommon to find them with the shell-like spathe above ground and the pollen fully ripened even in January although from the latter part of February to the first of May is the usual flowering season.
Skunk Cabbage. Symplocarpus foetidus.
While the ground is covered with snow, a tiny awl point thrusts its way through the hard earth and slowly enlarges and expands, until, by the time the melting snow gives us our first glimpse of the ground, we find the skunk cabbage fully developed and awaiting its insect visitors. The first warm days bring forth quantities of small flies, many of which have simply been dormant beneath the leaves. These flies feed upon decaying animal matter; they have no aesthetic taste and beautiful flowers would lack the attractiveness to them that the ill-scented skunk cabbage has. We must conclude that this odor, combining that of the skunk and of putrid meat is for the purpose of attracting carrion flies that they may perform the function of fertilizing the flowers.
The flower spathes show a very great diversity of coloring according to their age, ranging from a pale green sparingly streaked with brown to an almost solid purple tone.
The flowers are small, perfect and closely crowded on the thick fleshy spadix, concealed or partially so by the large, thick, purple and green stained hood; The leaves appear after the flower has withered or commenced to do so; they are bright green, large, cabbage-like, and strongly veined; quite handsome, in fact. These plants range from N. S. to Minn, and southwards, chiefly in boggy ground.