Our April plant of the month is swamp lantern, also known as skunk cabbage (Lysichiton americanum).
If you walk the wetland trail this month you will see the beautiful yellow ‘lanterns’ of swamp lantern! The broadly elliptic green leaves push upward from fleshy, upright underground stems and unfold in a large basal rosette soon after the bloom appears. These leaves have a distinct odor similar to that of a skunk! The many flowers are borne on a thick fleshy axis which is hooded with a bright yellow bract. The green to reddish berry-like fruits are embedded in the fleshy flower spike.
Swamp lantern is found in wet areas at low to middle elevations. It can be found in many of the wet areas of the Chinook land.
Northwest Coast peoples used the leaves for lining berry baskets, steaming pits, and berry drying racks. Swamp lantern was rarely used for food, though after steaming or roasting it could be eaten during times of famine.