Monday, March 27, 2023

Flames in the muck

The last week of March: skunk cabbage season. I drove some 30 kilometres today, slowly, peering into bogs and beaver ponds and the edges of creeks, looking for them, not seeing any. Maybe it's a bit early, I thought. And then, when I'd given up and was nearly back home again, there they were, in a ditch at the side of the road.

Skunk cabbage with immature flower spike. And the first leaves of a ditch parsley.

It is still early. Most of the yellow spathes were closed, and no flowers are open on the few spikes visible.

Closed bracts, and the beginnings of leaves.

The spear tips poking out of the water and the muck are the start of the horsetails that will soon fill the ditch.

Shaped like the flame of a yellow candle.

So early it is, that there was still no skunky odour. That will come when the flowers open. Next week, probably.

La semana final de marzo; debemos estar en la temporada de la col fétida, también llamada la linterna de pantano. Manejé unos 30 kilómetros hoy, despacito, mirando hacia ambos lados, buscando entre pantanos y lagunas de los castores y en las orillas de los riachuelos, sin ver ni una. Será un poco temprano, me dije, y regresé hacia la ciudad. Y ya casi llegando a casa, allí estaban, en una zanja.

Sí es temprano; la mayoría de las espatas estaban cerradas, y no hay flores abiertas en las pocas espádices visibles. Tan temprano es que todavía no se nota el olor a zorillo; hay que esperar a que se abran las flores.

  1. Una col de pantano con la espádice visible. Y con las primeras hojas de una hierba acuática.
  2. Aquí las espatas siguen cerradas. Se ven los primeros brotes de hojas. Las puntas de lanza que se ven saliendo del lodo son brotes de cola de caballo, Equisetum spp.
  3. Otra espata cerrada. Parece la llama de una vela amarilla.

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