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It was found in Eastern Pennsylvania (in the United States) in a deeply wooded area.
Those are the fruit clusters of a common "wildflower" that often grow in wet areas, called Eastern Skunk Cabbage or Symplocarpus foetidus. Initially (early Spring), it's not bad looking (and some species - such as the western skunk flower - are even pretty):
But after a while, the spathe (sheath) dries up while the seeds grow in the spadix (the fleshy thing in the middle with the little 'flowers') grow, leaving the swollen spadix (fruit):
The tip off, though, is the characteristic new growth, very skunk-cabbagey, so I would guess those fruits are from the previous year (?).
- Eastern skunk cabbage is notable for its ability to generate temperatures of up to 15-35 °C (27-63 °F) above air temperature by cyanide resistant cellular respiration in order to melt its way through frozen ground, placing it among a small group of plants exhibiting thermogenesis.
This allows it to flower through melted ice or snow. Also:
- It's a member of the arum family.
- It depends for fertilization on bugs that like carrion.
- It's virtually impossible to dig up a well-established plant because the roots pull the plant down deeper into the soil every year (it has contractile roots).
- It was widely used medicinally.
Skunk Cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus)