Lysichiton americanus or American Skunk Cabbage is an herb from the Araceae family.
It flowers from April to May with huge yellow flowers of up to 35 cm long. It is a marsh plant, it must be in wet ground all year round, preferably in a pond’s edge at 10 cm depth.
With a frost resistance of down to -20 °C, it is fairly easy to grow in the garden.
The plant is native to North America where it served as food for the native Americans in times of famine.
Note: The plant is invasive and grows now in the wild in Switzerland, Ireland and the United Kingdom. It does not spread rapidly but replaces local flora. Do not plant it in a position from where it can spread easily, like on the edge of a river or stream.
The green leaves look like banana leaves and are about 50 cm long but may exceed 1 m. The veins are thick but develop only after flowering.
The inflorescence has a yellow bract of 35 cm long, similar to that of Arum. It spreads a strong musk-like odor that attracts the insects responsible for pollination. The English name “Skunk Cabbage American” refers to the smell.
The fruits are red berries.
American Skunk Cabbage, Skunk Cabbage, Western Skunk Cabbage, Yellow Skunk Cabbage
Lysichiton: from the Greek lys (loose) and chiton (tunic)
Americanus: from America
North America, from California to Alaska
USDA zone 6-8, -20 °C
Swampy, acidic soil.
Sun or light but also tolerates half shade and shade.
The plant must be continuously submerged at a depth of about 10 cm.
To encourage flowering, you may fertilize with a high potassium fertilizer .
By seed and division.
If the plant finds itself in a good spot in the garden, it can spread by seed.
- Lysichiton americanus: Martin Bravenboer