Skunk Cabbage is a sign of spring.

First signs of spring

Things you probably don't know about skunk cabbage

Skunk cabbage, which grows along wet ditches is a sure sign of the season. While some consider the plant to be a weed, its roots are food for bears, who eat it after hibernating as a laxative or cathartic. The plant was used by indigenous people as medicine for burns and injuries, and for food in times of famine, when almost all parts were eaten. The leaves have a somewhat spicy or peppery taste. Caution should be used in attempts to prepare Western Skunk Cabbage for consumption, as it contains calcium oxalate crystals, which result in a gruesome prickling sensation on the tongue and throat and can result in intestinal irritation and even death if consumed in large quantities. Although the plant was not typically part of the diet under normal conditions, its large, waxy leaves were important to food preparation and storage. They were commonly used to line berry baskets and to wrap around whole salmon and other foods when baked under a fire.