Originally from North America, the Skunk cabbage gets its name from the distinctive ‘skunk’ like odour that it emits to attract pollinating insects to the plant. The large leaves of this plant can shade out native species and the plant can develop into dense stands. It produces seeds which can be spread via water as well as berries which can be dispersed by birds. The plant is similar to lords & ladies (Arum maculatum) in early spring however it can eventually grow to be 1.5 metres in height.
American Skunk Cabbage (Lysichiton americanus)
Key ID Features
1 or 2 (sometimes up to 4) bright
yellow spathes (look like large
Bright green leathery
leaves with light sheen. Large cabbage-like leaves.
Most easily identified when in flower (late March to May). When not in flower large
cabbage-like leaves, often on swamp mud, may be used for identification
Similar Species - Lords-and-ladies (Arum maculatum)
Also known as Cuckoo-Pint, this plant can often be mistaken for American Skunk cabbage in spring. A native plant, it produces a cluster of red berries in the autumn which are extremely poisonous. It can be identified by:
• Green spathe (rather than yellow)
• Purple spadix
• Smaller than skunk cabbage
• Arrow shaped leaves with dark spots