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Any of three species of plants that grow in temperate bogs and meadows, emitting unpleasant odours as they grow. The eastern North American skunk cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus, of the arum family) has large fleshy leaves, purple-brown spathes, and a skunklike odour. The western, or yellow, skunk cabbage (Lysichiton americanum), also an arum, bears a large yellow spathe and is found from California to Alaska and eastward to Montana. The third species, Veratrum californicum, is the poisonous corn lily, or false hellebore, of the lily family, which grows from New Mexico and Baja California northward to Washington State.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on skunk cabbage, visit Britannica.com.