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Home > Landscaping > Native Plants for Western Washington Gardens and Restoration Projects



Lysichiton americanum

Skunk Cabbage

Flowering Period: Mar, Apr, May March April May
Flower color: yellow
Partial sun Mostly shady
Wet soil Moist soil


At a Glance: A wetland plant with very large waxy erect leaves and yellow flower spikes enclosed in a large yellow sheath.

Height: 1-5 feet (30-150 cm).
Growth Form: Herb.
Leaves: Leaves emerge early from large basal rosette, leaves are thin, net-veined; shape: lance to broadly elliptic shape; size: up to 1.5 meters (5 ft) long, to 50 cm (1.5 feet) wide; color: dark green.
Flowers: Numerous small flowers on thick axis (spadix) that is hooded by a large bright yellow bract/sheath, gives off skunk-like odor when flowering, flowers before the leaves appear; primary color: greenish-yellow; size: 6-8 cm (2.5-3 in) thick, 30 cm (12 in) long.
Flowering Period: March, April, May.
Fruits: Fruits are berry-like with a pulpy texture and are embedded in the fleshy flower spike, 1 or 2 seeded; color: greenish -white.

Lysichiton americanum
Photo © 2005, Starflower Foundation
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Sun/Shade Tolerance Hydrology Elevation Range
Grows larger in shady understories.

full sun > 80%
mostly sunny 60%-80%
partial sun and shade 40%- 60%
mostly shady 60%-80%
full shade > 80%

Prefers wet habitat.

wet
moist
dry

Wetland Indicator Status:
OBL (obligate wetland)
Sea level to 1300 meters.

low elevation
mid elevation
sub-alpine
high elevation


Soil Preferences
Common in wet soils under cedar trees.
sandy soils
gravelly soils
clay soils
muddy soils
peaty soils
well drained soils
shallow soils
deep soils
acidic soils
basic soils
humic soils
nutrient rich soils
nutrient poor soils
mineral soils
organic soils

Habitat Preferences
Aquatic and Wetland:
Ponds or lakes
Shallow pools
Sloughs
Swales or wet ditches
Seasonally inundated areas
Marshes or swamps
Aquatic bed wetlands
Emergent wetlands
Scrub-shrub wetlands
Forested wetlands
Bogs, fens
Seeps, springs
Shorelines and Riparian:
Lake shores
Bog margins
Streams or rivers
Stream or river banks
Riparian corridors
River bars
Floodplains
Bottomlands
Alluvial areas
Saltwater Areas:
In or near saltwater
Mud flats
Tidal areas
Estuaries
Saltmarshes
Brackish water
Seashores
Coastal dunes or beaches
Rocky or Gravelly Areas:
Coastal bluffs
Cliffs
Rocky slopes
Outcrops
Crevices
Glacial outwash
Gullies
Slide areas
Sub-alpine and Alpine:
Heaths
Snow beds
Tundra
Avalanche tracks
Forests and Thickets:
Forests and woods
Open forests
Coniferous forests
Old growth forests
Deciduous forests
Mixed forests
Nurse logs
Forest edges, openings, or clearings
Thickets
Meadows and Fields:
Pastures or fields
Meadows or grassy areas
Mossy areas
Disturbed Areas:
Roadsides
Trailsides
Logged sites
Burned areas
Disturbed sites

Wildlife Value
Berries
Seeds
Nectar for hummingbirds
Nectar for butterflies
Host for insect larvae
Thickets and shelter
Thorny or protective cover

Insects: The pungent odor of the flowers attracts pollinators such as carrion beetles and blowflies.
Mammals: The flower heads often browsed by deer. The fruits are eaten by bear. The roots are eaten by muskrats.


Ethnobotanical Uses and Other Facts
Toxicity: Contains calcium oxalate crystals that are harmful if digested..



Suggested References



The landscaping and restoration information provided on this page is taken from the Starflower Foundation Image Herbarium. All photographs © Starflower Foundation unless otherwise noted.