One of the earliest flowers to open in the nearby woods is the skunk cabbage. Appearing even when there is still snow or ice on the ground, the spathe pushes through the frozen soil by generating some of its own heat. The appearance is somewhat alien-like and always fascinated me when I first saw them. Inside is the round spadix holding tiny flowers - these are pollinated by early flying insects. Soon afterwards, the yellowish-green shoot appears to the side which contains the leafy part of the plant.
Here in the second illustration, we can clearly see inside the spathe and also the flower clumps sitting on the spadix. Here the plant is a little further along with the shoot growing slowly until the leaves start to open the the flower fades away. Deep-rooted, the plant reproduces by producing small pea-sized seeds. While not really edible, the plant does have medicinal purposes and the Native Americans utilized the dried leaves for various purposes.