American Skunk-cabbage

Lysichiton americanus

Photo credit: invasivespecies.scot





Size: Flowers can grow to 1.5m

Leaves are around 70cm long

Native to: North America, from southern Alaska to northern California

Introduced to the UK: In 1901 as an ornamental for pondsides, first recorded escaped in the wild in 1947 in Surrey



When To See

Flowers late March to May


Skunk-cabbage is a lowland perennial, although it can grow at altitudes of up to 1400m. It needs a wet site, such as wet woodlands, river and burn edges, and on the margins of muddy ponds. Typically found in rich fertile mud, it can grow in a wide range of soil types and pH levels.

How To Identify

It has a rosette of stemmed, leathery textured leaves that can reach up to 70cm long and have a similar appearance to cabbage. Yellow flowers are produced in spring, and have a strong odour like that which a skunk emits. These can grow up to 1.5m tall. It produces green berries in summer. Dense stands allow skunk-cabbage to out-compete native plants by depriving them of natural light.

How It’s Treated

By undertaking herbicide application by spraying and stem injection during the late summer months, usually July – October. The heads can be cut to prevent seeding, and then the stumps can be treated. The plant can be dug out by hand, but if the rhizomes are not also removed it is thought to be able to re-establish from rhizome fragments. Chemical control should always be carried out by a qualified individual.

Photo credit: Neil Theasby, Geograph Britain & Ireland

Seen It?

Been kicking about near your local river or burn and come across one of these species? Not sure? Share it with us at riverlife@forthriverstrust.org, we enjoy chatting about invasive species with you.