Skunk Cabbage

Stalking the Wild Skunk Cabbage

Flies on Skunk Cabbage (detail from featured photo)

Flies on Skunk Cabbage (detail from featured photo)

A favorite winter past time for the nature types is to search out the earliest spring wildflowers. Skunk cabbage is perhaps the earliest bloomer around here. The flower opens in February, while snow is still on the ground. I saw this one open originally on February 3rd. I did not have a lens with reach with me at the time. Skunk cabbage grows in wet, soggy soils; I wanted to stay on the trail. Today I had occasion to return to the spot with a Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED IF AF-S VR Nikkor Zoom Lens for a closer view. If you look carefully you can see the opening in the flower, indicating that it is blooming. The flower looks more like a thick leaf curled around to form a cavity within. In that cavity is the round, spiky fertile structure. Skunk Cabbage is in the Arum family. Peace Lily, often seen at funerals, is another familiar arum. Skunk cabbage is pollenated by the same flies that breed on carrion (they are there in the photo…see the enlargement.) The skunk cabbage blooms at the same time as the thaws of winter expose the carcasses of animals that have died during the freezing temperatures.

Technically there is not much remarkable about the photograph. We are at a high ISO. This long lens is not very bright. A tripod would have helped, of course, but I didn’t drag that out this time. I fired off several shots each time I framed, so that I could pick the clearest when I got home. Why not, they are free! Yay digital!

My telephoto these days is the Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED IF AF-S VR. You can see my reviews of several lower-cost 300mm zoom options; since that review, I have traded up to the VR. I got a good price because it had a speck in the lens, but it has not affected pictures. If I had not come across the deal, I would have been happy with the Nikon 70-300mm ED.

Sneaky Skunk Cabbage

Sneaky Skunk Cabbage, same area as feature image, from a week previous

Taking pictures of flowers is not the first thing on one’s mind when purchasing a telephoto. But, there are times, like today, when the desired subject is not within easy reach. Could be a swamp, like today, or a cliff or the other side of a creek. This 70-300mm VR focuses close enough that I can fill the frame with a medium-sized flower at 300mm. That’s about the limit.