A few days ago I headed to Sugarloaf Mountain for my first botanizing session of 2018. I found lots more trailing arbutus, but it’s still in bud. I’ll keep checking.
Some of the aliens are starting to flower (veronicas, bittercresses), but otherwise the only plant blooming is skunk cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus; Araceae). The two pointy things pictured here are spathes, modified leaves (bracts) that enclose the flowers, shown below.
Skunk cabbage is a plant of wet places. When it’s not growing right in water, it’ll be in very wet soil. In a few weeks the leaves will start emerging and unfurling. A stand of bright green skunk cabbage is a cheery sight in early spring, but don’t step on them unless you want first-hand knowledge of how they got that common name.