Lysichiton camtschatcensis
Common Name: skunk cabbage
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Araceae
Native Range: Northeastern Asia
Zone: 5 to 7
Height: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Spread: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Bloom Time: April
Bloom Description: Yellow to green spadix with white spathe
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium to wet
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Naturalize, Rain Garden
Flower: Showy
Tolerate: Heavy Shade

Culture

Best grown in water margins in fertile, humus-rich, medium to wet soils in full sun to part shade. Plants tolerate close to full shade. Plants also tolerate some seasonal flooding of very shallow water over the roots. Propagate by seed planted in wet soils in spring or summer or by offsets taken in summer. Plants will naturalize over time to form colonies.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Lysichiton camtschatcensis, commonly called skunk cabbage, is a rhizomatous marginal aquatic perennial that is native to northeastern Russia and Japan. It is a stemless plant that typically grows 2-3' tall. It is in the same family (Araceae) as jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema) with a similar flower structure consisting of a spadix (erect club-like spike containing numerous tiny yellow to green flowers) and a sheath-like white spathe (encases the lower part of the spadix and opens to form a hood extending over the top of the spadix). Flowers bloom in early spring before the leaves. Spadix rises to 12" tall. It is followed by a basal clump of leathery, broad-oval, paddle-like, glossy green leaves (to 3' long) in loose rosettes. Leaves begin to grow as the flowers fade but generally decline in the heat of the summer.

Genus name comes from the Greek words lysis meaning a loosening or releasing and chiton meaning a cloak. As the fruits ripen, the spathe is released from the spadix.

Specific epithet means of the Kamchatka Peninsula on the Siberian coast.

Skunk cabbage leaves (particularly when crushed) have a musty smell, hence the common name.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Slugs will chew on the foliage.

Garden Uses

Stream or pond margins. Boggy areas. Water gardens.