Skunk Cabbage Control Programme

Patch of skunk cabbage

American skunk cabbage (Lysichiton americanus) is a garden plant which was widely sold for ornamental planting in bog gardens and around ponds. Unfortunately, it is now a garden escape and is an invasive species found on riverbanks, wet woodland and other wetland habitats. It is thought to spread via seed and rhizome, particularly along watercourses and ditches. The seeds can be carried by water hundreds of metres downstream of the source.

On Exmoor we are at a relatively early stage of infestation and are in a position to control its spread. This is very important as if left unchecked skunk cabbage has the potential to take over valuable wildlife habitats. On Dartmoor, for example, skunk cabbage is a major problem and is threatening flower-rich marshy grassland of national importance for rare butterflies and other insects. We are very keen to prevent this happening on Exmoor and so are undertaking a control programme through the ENNIS project.

invasive American skunk cabbage

Control on Exmoor

At the start of the project ENPA were aware of just eight sites on Exmoor. However, with awareness raising of the problem and continued survey work, we now know of over 20 sites, and it is likely to still be under recorded. The aim of the project is to control the sites by spraying the plants with a herbicide. The first treatment is undertaken in May/June and a second treatment is carried out in September each year by a qualified contractor.

If you have skunk cabbage on your land and you would like us to include it in our Exmoor Skunk Cabbage Control Programme please do get in touch by email or phone.

In addition to using herbicide, we are also trialling the organic method of Rootwave which essentially gives the plant an electric shock and boils the cells within the plant. The trial is at an early stage, but results look promising so far. Please follow the link to find out more about our Rootwave Pro Trials.

We need your help!

We are working closely with volunteers and local communities to survey and map invasive species within the National Park which will help guide our work controlling them in the future. Please visit our Get Involved page if you would like to report an invasive species or are interested in volunteering with us.

We can also give advice, so if you have an invasive species on your land that you are looking to control please do not hesitate to get in touch by email or phone.