Skunk Cabbage, Skunk Weed, Polecat Cabbage, Stinking Poke, Fetid Hellebore

Symplocarpus foetidus

Family: Araceae (a-RAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Symplocarpus (sim-plo-KAR-pus) (Info)
Species: foetidus (FET-uh-dus) (Info)
Synonym:Dracontium foetidum



Ponds and Aquatics

Foliage Color:


Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Water Requirements:

Very high moisture needs; suitable for bogs and water gardens

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


18-24 in. (45-60 cm)

24-36 in. (60-90 cm)


24-36 in. (60-90 cm)


USDA Zone 3a: to -39.9 C (-40 F)

USDA Zone 3b: to -37.2 C (-35 F)

USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)

USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)

USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)

USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)

USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)

USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun

Sun to Partial Shade


All parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:

Scarlet (Dark Red)

Bloom Time:

Late Winter/Early Spring

Mid Spring





Other details:

This plant may be considered a protected species; check before digging or gathering seeds

Soil pH requirements:

Unknown - Tell us

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)

From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall

Seed Collecting:

Allow unblemished fruit to ripen; clean and dry seeds

Seed does not store well; sow as soon as possible


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

, (2 reports)

Wilmington, Delaware

Lisle, Illinois

Brookeville, Maryland

Oakland, Maryland

Pikesville, Maryland

Valley Lee, Maryland

Chilmark, Massachusetts

Reading, Massachusetts

Belleville, Michigan

Tilton, New Hampshire

Frenchtown, New Jersey

Ithaca, New York

Chardon, Ohio

Glouster, Ohio

Greencastle, Pennsylvania

Millersburg, Pennsylvania

Norristown, Pennsylvania

Pottstown, Pennsylvania

Tidioute, Pennsylvania

Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania

Desoto, Texas

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On May 21, 2015, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

Endangered in Tennessee, at the southern edge of its range. Very common here in Massachusetts.

The foliage is big and tropical-looking. Goes dormant in summer. A native of swamps, it needs boggy conditions.

The skunk odor is faint to nonexistent unless the leaves are crushed or stepped on.

The curious hooded flowers are maroon-brown, not scarlet---not very conspicuous, but easy to recognize if you look for them. Very early in the spring, they can melt their way through snow. Their heat-generating ability attracts flies on cold days for pollination. The leaves appear long after the flowers.

in the wild, this generally is found in large colonies. I've never seen an isolated plant, or just a few.


On May 21, 2015, Rickwebb from Downingtown, PA wrote:

A most interesting wild perennial in moist or wet soils in woods or marshes.


On May 8, 2012, woodylover from Provincetown, MA (Zone 7a) wrote:

striking native spring ephemeral, great aroid for that wet area. I'm surprised ladybug would post a negative concerning its herbal/medicinal properties. The foxgloves, monkshoods, and ilex had all better watch out!


On Oct 7, 2004, tcfromky from Mercer, PA (Zone 5a) wrote:

The name of this plant, when translated, means: Symplocarpus: from symploce for "connection" and carpos for "fruit", referring to connection of ovaries into compound fruit - foetidus: evil-smelling.


On Aug 14, 2004, shortcm from Wilmington, DE (Zone 7b) wrote:

Sure isn't endangered here! It's all over our streambeds. One of the earliest signs of spring.


On Aug 12, 2004, ariodlove from Louisville, KY wrote:

The spadix inside of the skunk cabbage flower structure will heat up to 70 degrees F to attract bugs. Grows in bogs and wetlands in the wild.


On Apr 1, 2003, ladiebug wrote:

Go to http://www.herbaltransitions for overdose info. Causes intestinal disorder and miscarriage.