Weird & Wonderful
The Skunk Cabbage
Release date: 27th December 2009
Many plants die during the winter in cold countries, and others only begin to grow when the earth warms up in spring. But have you heard about the SKUNK CABBAGE - plants that have their own 'central heating' allowing them to stay alive during the winter, and begin to grow when the ground is frozen and snow is lying around?
There are two kinds of this plant, the Eastern and Western skunk cabbage. They grow in North America and parts of northern Asia. Although they look a little different, both have the wonderful ability to produce heat. They melt the ice and snow as their flowers push up from the soil. The heat produced can be 15-30 deg C higher than the air temperature! They are called skunk cabbages because of their horrible smell, which is like rotting meat! This attracts flies and other insects, which pollinate the plant. By pushing through the ground before the weather warms up, the skunk cabbages attract the insects which come out in early spring.
How do these plants make heat? During the summer they capture energy from the sun, which is turned into glucose. This is stored in their roots during the winter as starch. When the flowers start to push through the soil, the starch becomes sugar and is burned to make heat. This is a very complicated process and scientists have done lots of studies on it.
It seems impossible to believe that skunk cabbages could have gradually evolved the amazing and complicated way they produce heat. We believe they were designed by God, the Creator.
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