Corn lily or Skunk cabbage? I find out…
A wildflower walk yields a new name and an interesting plant to photograph up in the high country near Jones’s Store in Beasore Meadow.
Travel from Bass Lake, California, up Beasore Road, opposite the Pines Village, and you’ll be in the high country within 40 minutes. Cattle are still driven up to Beasore Meadow in the spring to feed on the grass in the meadow in summer. Set like a rustic jewel at the edge of the meadow is the Jones’s Store, a real old-time store that has a 100 year old history with the cattle ranchers here in the Sierra.
Each summer we travel up this road to have lunch with the motorcyclists that gather here for a lunch stop on their scenic ride. After my burger,…I left the group this time and wandered down the road to the west toward a little cabin and a group of wildflowers in the shade.
What is this?
I thought, wow, a whole colony of skunk cabbage! Skunk cabbage is a nickname and the Latin is Veratrum californicum. Another common name is False Helebore or California Corn Lily.
Note: There’s a true Skunk cabbage called Symplocarpus foetidus.
Cabbage is truly a misnomer, because the plant is highly toxic. Oh, oh, how wonderful when you’re a photographer!
Corn lilies are found in moist, open areas above 5,000 feet. Beasore Meadow is about 7,000 ft. They grow six to eight feet tall and have flower stalks that dim compared to the large, decoratively pleated leaves. The yellow in front here is California Goldenrod, Solidago velutina ssp. californica.
A photographers fascination
Though Corn Lilies grow flower clusters on six-foot-high stalks, it’s the football-sized leaves that tend to be the attraction of photographers, especially when several plants gather in a tight bunch like these. Here is my fun that day,…in photographs.
I had great fun, crouching down with my camera deep into the leafiness. The swirl of leaves around the center stalks made for endless patterns and interesting design in nature.
Corn lilies stream through the meadow in a wavy, wandering line through the sunny, idyllic meadow.
Back to the Jones’s Store…through the Skunk Cabbage….