Spring is definitely here! Dockside Galley opened April 15th for all of us eagerly awaiting their delicious burgers, fries, and milkshakes. I promptly ate the fried mozzarella sticks I had been craving. Boats are making their way back to their stalls daily. Days are getting longer fast. And, the first cruise ship arrives on April 28th screaming summer's around the corner!
Another sign of spring, seen on my walk around the north end, is skunk cabbage sprouts. They are everywhere. The bright yellow flower is a welcome sight against the currently brown, swampy areas they like to inhabit.
Skunk cabbage (Lysichiton Americanus), or western skunk cabbage, is one of the first plants to bloom. April is the time that skunk cabbage sprouts and is a sure sign that spring is here. The yellow flower, called the spathe, surrounds a stalk, the spadix. According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Sitka black tailed deer love skunk cabbage. They will eat the green shoots and the leaves. Bears, also, eat skunk cabbage by digging up the roots after hibernating.
Skunk cabbage has some interesting characteristics. The buds of the skunk cabbage emerge from underground tubers generating heat sufficient to melt snow and thaw soil. The skunky smell the plant is named for attracts beetles and other insects as pollinators. Their leaves can grow over five feet tall making them seem like surreal jungle plants. Although animals and insects love skunk cabbage, it is generally not used for human consumption due to the presence of calcium oxalate crystals which cause a stinging sensation when eaten. One last mention of skunk cabbage... They are very photogenic!
What are your favorite signs of spring? Send us your photos or comments!