Spent today in the woods. Not the leisurely type walk that one enjoys when
the weather allows us to do so. No, today was a work day for the dogs. One of my
other passions is volunteering with a search and rescue K-9 team. As most of our
work is wilderness we spend a lot of time training in wooded areas. Though my
first priority is to pay attention to what my dog is doing or the others that I
work with, I cannot help but notice the woods themselves.
Today, I noticed the skunk cabbage is coming up. Those first few leaves are
such a rich shade of green, a stately leaf due to their size. But a plant to be
avoided. Not only does it stink like rotten meat if you crush in under your feet
or as it decays but it is also poisonous. Amazing how many insects are attracted
to it. Didn't realize that the new leaves produce enough heat to melt the snow
around it and that the leaves are large enough to provide some protection for
These are found near marshy areas and along streams and river banks. They were name by Pliny, as a member of the Ranunculaceae (buttercup) family. Ranunculus is Latin for "little frog". And these marigolds are found where frogs reign. Makes sense to me... the spring peepers have been going strong since our
unexpected run of warm weather hit a couple weeks back.
The name of "marigold" comes from "Mary's gold" refering to their presence in
the Middle Ages at church festivals in honor of the Virgin Mary. The flowers
were picked and left at houses at nightfall to ward off evil fairies. Their leaves are glossy green and the flowers are bright yellow.
Blooming from April to mid-June Marsh Marigolds are an important food source
for bees. All parts of the plant are poisonous to humans and livestock, and even
touching the flowers or leaves could cause a skin rash. So as with the skunk
cabbage, a plant to admire but to leave alone.