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For Your Garden - September 2019

Native plants provide beauty as well as food and shelter for wildlife. Native species are adapted to the Illinois climate. They require little or no watering and are resistant to drought, insects and most diseases. Because they are perennials, you can welcome their presence year after year.

skunk cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus)
Photo © River Valley Photographic Resources Ltd.,

The skunk cabbage is a perennial herb. It has no stems. The smooth leaves, which may be up to two and one‐half feet long and nearly one foot wide, are produced after flowering. The flowers are located close to the ground on a thickened structure that is surrounded by a purple-to-green sheath. The fruits are berries. The skunk cabbage grows in swamps, fens and other wet areas. This plant flowers from February through March.

Classification and taxonomy are based on Mohlenbrock, Robert H. 2014. Vascular flora of Illinois: A field guide. Fourth edition. Southern Illinois University Press, Carbondale. 536 pp.

Illinois Range

Native Plant Information

For more information about Illinois native plants, visit our Native Habitat Descriptions, Requirements, and Plant Lists page. The following publications are available from the IDNR on our publications page.


​Kingdom: Plantae
Phylum: Magnoliophyta
Class: Liliopsida
Order: Arales
Family: Araceae

Illinois Status: common, native