Skunk Cabbage: When Foraging Goes Awry


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Skunk Cabbage

We have a plant here that locals call “skunk cabbage.” Over a year ago on a lark I actually picked some and tasted it. Somewhat predictably it was skunky. In fact it was so bad that I could not palate it at all and I spit it out — I’ve eaten spiders, crickets, beef kidney and more so that’s saying something. An Internet group of edible foragers informed me that the plant is poisonous (!) and not even skunk cabbage (!). If you are a forager, ID the plant yourself with a good field guide from your local area. A good source ID’d the plant for us and gave us some usage history, but when it’s you actually eating a new food, do a double-check.

In the meantime, I deindexed this page and pictures from search engines and so hopefully they won’t add to the confusion.

For anyone finding this page and wondering about “skunk cabbage,” it is a common name that refers to different species in various parts of the country. Look for regional-specific information in your search.

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12 Responses to Skunk Cabbage: When Foraging Goes Awry
  1. greens is very healthy meal my mother prepare pie with greens and that is amazing pie try it once if you did not Amanda.

  2. Great post! Love it! :)

    I remember a cousin of mine eating raw skunk cabbage once and thinking she was going to die.

  3. Erika Sprinfield

    Wow, I had no idea how much good skunk cabbage could do to our bodies! So many vitamins bundled up together! Awesome! I’m definitely going to try it! Thanks!

  4. Haha, I loved your description of eating it… I once ate a food that was high in oxalates, after attempting to cook it the traditional way to reduce the oxalates… I felt like I was eating shards of glass, and that was after only taking the tiniest little sip!

  5. So funny! I like trying new foods, but I think I’ll pass on this!

  6. I think this will be one experience your kids still speak about long after they have children of their own! I love your adventuresome spirit. :-) I think I’ll pass on this adventure though!

    Have you ever eaten cattail root? When I was young I was fascinated by Native American history and culture. I had read that they pounded the starch away from the fiber of the cattail root after it was boiled and ate it. I had cattails growing behind my house but was never strong enough to unearth one myself and nobody else shared my fascination. I still wonder what it would be like to try it, but now don’t live around any cattails.

    • Amanda Rose

      No Karen, no cattail. :)

  7. Great, informative post! Thanks for sharing with us at Healthy 2Day Wednesdays. Hope to see you again soon. :)

  8. HA! Thanks for saving me time and effort of foraging this. This really sounds like something I would do only a few days later I would probably try to eat it again, then never again. Thanks for sharing your experience!

  9. Haha, that’s a funny story! I’m not in the US so I’ve never had the pleasure of learning what a skunk smells (or tastes) like, but I imagine it wasn’t a very pleasant surprise!

    Foraging for greens sounds fun though :)

  10. I so enjoyed reading your post this morning. I was right there with you in the kitchen. I’ve never heard of skunk cabbage. I love learning new things. Thanks so much for sharing with us on AFW!

    Be Well,
    –Amber

  11. Lorraine Eckhardt

    I have always eaten wild forage. Nettles,”woollen britches” plantain, dandelions, etc. When my kids were still small (back in the 50′s) I introduced skunk cabbage. The directions, change water 8 times. The kids still remember the awful taste of the stuff. I learned since that the Indians baked the root in the coals and ashes, dried it and pounded it into meal. Perhaps they dried the leaves also. That process removed the sting.

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