Awful-smelling plant along this US roadway has one saving grace -- it melts snow

Mild winter temperatures along a stretch of North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Parkway in Watauga County have resulted in the growth of a fetid-smelling pod that, despite its odor, has the uncanny ability to create enough heat to melt snow around it, a published report said.


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While experts say the plant – known as skunk cabbage - is fatal if eaten, in a Facebook post Saturday, National Park Service officials say the prodigious bloom has “a face only a mother could love,” the Charlotte Observer reported.

“Equipped with a chemical process that heats this early bloomer up to over 55 degrees Fahrenheit, these stinky members of the Arum Family can even melt snow in order to bloom. Talk about determination!” 

— National Park Service Facebook post

Skunk cabbage is “a warm-blooded plant” that can raise the surrounding temperatures by as much as 20 degrees, according to a Pennsylvania State University report. By doing this, it “will use as much oxygen as a comparably sized mammal,” the report says.

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Descriptions of the plant say it “looks like something out of a science-fiction movie,” with a fierce defense mechanism, according to Gardening Know How.

“Skunk cabbage gets its name from the fact that, when the leaves are crushed or bruised, it gives off a smell of skunk or rotting meat,” Gardeningknowhow.com says.

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“In small doses, or two small bites, the skunk cabbage plant can cause burning and swelling of the mouth and a choking sensation. Eating larger portions of these leaves can, in extreme cases, be fatal,” the gardening site says.