American skunk cabbage was introduced to Britain in 1901, and was first recorded in the wild in 1947. Skunk cabbage is a popular plant in water-gardens, and has been actively promoted by the gardening press. In 1993 Lysichiton americanus received an “Award of Garden Merit” from the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Floral Committee.
More recently, greater attention has been drawn to its invasive nature. In 2010, the Recording Invasive Species Counts (RISC) project asked the public to submit records of Lysichiton americanus. The RHS website now provides an online leaflet on invasive plants in which it recommends that gardeners should “Avoid using plants known to be invasive, especially in the case of non-native aquatic species”.
Nevertheless, Skunk cabbage is still praised as a garden plant. The online BBC Plant Finder describes it as “an asset in any bog garden”, and makes no mention of its ability to spread into the wild. Skunk cabbage is still widely available from plant nurseries.Although it is less invasive than some non-native plants, it is dispersed readily by flowing water. A watchful eye is best kept on any populations which have escaped into the wild. Fortunately, it can be controlled relatively easily.