Skunk Lantern

The last BC Wetland Photo of the Week selection for 2011 comes from a couple (Terry & Julie) who collectively call themselves   TT_MAC. We’ve been eyeing their photograph for awhile after it had been entered into The Wetlands of British Columbia photo group. Their choice of backlighting was very strategic in this portrait: Skunk Lantern lives up to its name as a glowing yellow beacon in the dark wooded wetland.

The side of this plant that we cannot see in their magical image- its’ smell- is an overwhelming attractor to the flies and bees who pollinate it. For us on the West Coast, it usually signals wet land. For some animals, like bears, its roots work like a medicinal laxative after a season of hibernation. Don’t try consuming much of this plant as it can kill you, but a small bite of it’s large leaves will reveal a peppery flavour.

Terry and Julie (TT_MAC) give this description of their Skunk Lantern:

“A .6-km loop off of one of the main trails in Francis/King Regional Park, Saanich, loops through the marsh of lowlands below the towering Douglas fir and forest on the ridge above. Among the patches of moss, sump water, alder and indian plum, came upon an area where the back lit Swamp Lantern was really living up to its name. AKA skunk cabbage (it smells!!), the roots and stalk were eaten by many tribes and the Skokomish steamed young leaves for food. Other uses included wrapping for drying salal and elder berries, lining baskets, steampits, and the leaves, roots, and blossoms were used in various medicinal preparations.”

We congratulate the couple on their stunning capture of a quintessential Western Wetland plant! It is now featured in the BC Wetland Photo of the Week Gallery.

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