PHOTOS: Stinky subterfuge under the redwoods

Skunk cabbage tricks insects into spreading its pollen with fragrant decay aroma

  • Tiny banana slugs creep across a skunk cabbage bloom near a dewey spider web in Eureka’s Sequoia Park on Wednesday afternoon. The skunk cabbage’s smell deceives beetles and flies, fooling them into thinking that food is available. Instead of a smelly decaying animal carcass — their spring meal of choice — they’re tricked into visiting a flower filled with pollen, which they will then unintentionally carry to another flower. By mimicking the smell of decay, skunk cabbage has evolved the ability to exploit the first pollinators of the spring, according to J. Peter Coppinger, associate professor of Biology at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Indiana. (Shaun Walker — The Times-Standard)

  • A rhododendron starts to bloom in the park on Wednesday evening. (Shaun Walker — The Times-Standard)

  • A trillium bloom stands beneath redwood trees in the park on Wednesday evening. (Shaun Walker — The Times-Standard)

  • A trillium bloom stands beneath redwood trees in the park on Wednesday evening. (Shaun Walker — The Times-Standard)

  • A rhododendron starts to bloom in the park on Wednesday evening. (Shaun Walker — The Times-Standard)

  • A rhododendron starts to bloom in the park on Wednesday evening. (Shaun Walker — The Times-Standard)

  • A trillium bloom stands beneath redwood trees in the park on Wednesday evening. (Shaun Walker — The Times-Standard)

  • A trillium begins to bloom near Spring equinox on Wednesday evening. (Shaun Walker — The Times-Standard)

  • A trillium bloom stands beneath redwood trees and near fallen ones in the park on Wednesday evening. (Shaun Walker — The Times-Standard)

  • A trillium bloom stands beneath redwood trees in the park on Wednesday evening. (Shaun Walker — The Times-Standard)

  • A trillium bloom stands beneath redwood trees in the park on Wednesday evening. (Shaun Walker — The Times-Standard)

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