[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.

1. Spathyema Foetida (L.) Raf. Skunk Cabbage

Fig. 1117

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.

1 Spathyema Foetida L Raf Skunk Cabbage 1117