We have recently published ‘Food Forest Plants for Hotter Conditions’: i.e. tropical and sub-tropical regions. We rely on regular donations to keep our free database going and help fund development of this and another book we are planning on food forest plants for Mediterranean climates. Please give what you can to keep PFAF properly funded. More >>>

Follow Us:


Lysichiton americanus - Hult.&St.John

Common Name Yellow Skunk Cabbage, American skunkcabbage
Family Araceae
USDA hardiness 5-9
Known Hazards The plant is rich in calcium oxylate, this is toxic and if consumed makes the mouth and digestive tract feel as though hundreds of needles are being stuck into it. However, calcium oxylate is easily destroyed by thoroughly cooking or drying the plant[172].
Habitats Open swamps and wet woods near the coast[71], rarely flowering if in the shade[99].
Range Western N. America. Sometimes naturalized in Britain.
Edibility Rating    (3 of 5)
Other Uses    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care (info)
Fully Hardy Wet Soil Water Plants Semi-shade Full sun
Lysichiton americanus Yellow Skunk Cabbage, American skunkcabbage

Lysichiton americanus Yellow Skunk Cabbage, American skunkcabbage


Translate this page:


Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Lysichiton americanus is a PERENNIAL growing to 1 m (3ft 3in) by 0.8 m (2ft 7in) at a slow rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 6. It is in flower in April, and the seeds ripen from June to July. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Insects.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers wet soil and can grow in water.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Plant Habitats

Woodland Garden Dappled Shade; Shady Edge; Ground Cover; Pond; Bog Garden;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Leaves  Root  Shoots
Edible Uses:

Young shoots - these must be thoroughly cooked otherwise they are poisonous[172]. The native North American Indian tribes would cook them in several changes of water, the end result being a tasteless mush[172]. The leaves can be dried then powdered and used as a thickening agent[256]. Older leaves have been used to wrap up food that was being baked. The leaves would impart a pleasant flavouring to the food[257]. Young flower stalks - cooked[256]. Only used when there was a shortage of other foods, the stalks must be thoroughly cooked or else they are poisonous[256]. It is said that no more than three stalks should be consumed at one meal[257]. Root - cooked. It must be thoroughly cooked or dried before use, otherwise it is poisonous[61, 105, 118, 207]. Rich in starch, a flour can be made from the dried and ground root[212]. The root has a hot flavour, somewhat like ginger[256]. The root is best harvested in the autumn[256].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Antispasmodic  Blood purifier  Poultice  Styptic

Antispasmodic, styptic[61, 172]. Yellow skunk cabbage was employed medicinally by several native North American Indian tribes who used it mainly as a poultice to treat a variety of complaints[257]. It is little, if at all, used in modern herbalism. Caution is advised, especially if using the plant internally, see the notes above on toxicity. A poultice of roots has been applied to swellings, sores, boils, burns and rheumatic joints[257]. A poultice of the heated blossoms has been applied to rheumatic joints[257]. A poultice of the leaves has been applied to scrofulous sores, burns, cuts, swellings and chest pains[257]. Heated leaves have been applied tot he body in order to draw out splinters and thorns[257]. The leaves have also been used as a general tonic in a herbal sweat bath[257]. The raw root has been chewed by women in order to secure an abortion[257]. A decoction of the root has been drunk as a blood purifier[257].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

The Bookshop: Edible Plant Books

Our Latest books on Perennial Plants For Food Forests and Permaculture Gardens in paperback or digital formats.

Food Forest Plants for Hotter Conditions: 250+ Plants For Tropical Food Forests & Permaculture Gardens.
Edible Tropical Plants

Food Forest Plants for Hotter Conditions: 250+ Plants For Tropical Food Forests & Permaculture Gardens.

Plants for Your Food Forest: 500 Plants for Temperate Food Forests & Permaculture Gardens.
Edible Temperate Plants

Plants for Your Food Forest: 500 Plants for Temperate Food Forests & Permaculture Gardens.

PFAF have eight books available in paperback and digital media.
More Books

PFAF have eight books available in paperback and digital formats. Browse the shop for more information.

Shop Now

Other Uses

Containers  Lining  Waxed paper

The leaves are large and water repellent, they can be used as a 'waxed paper' and also for lining fruit baskets etc and for wrapping food in for baking[99, 256]. They were also folded and used as containers for collecting berries, as drinking cups and as a covering or mat for food that was being dried[257]. The plants have very large leaves and form a slowly spreading clump. They can be grown as a ground cover, spaced about 1 metre apart each way[208].

Special Uses

Ground cover  Scented Plants

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Requires a wet or damp humus-rich soil in full sun or semi-shade[200]. Plants often do not flower when grown in the shade[99]. Grows well by water or in the bog garden[1]. Succeeds in shallow water and also in still or flowing water[188]. Hardy to at least -15°c[200]. Young plants require protection from slugs[187]. Plants are slow to establish at first, taking some years, but can then become naturalized and often self-sow[200]. The flowers have an unpleasant aroma[187] which is rather like a combination of skunk, carrion and garlic[245]. This smell attracts flies and midges in great numbers to pollinate the flowers and so spiders tend to like making their webs in the plant so they can catch lots of food[245]. Hybridizes with L. camtschatcense[200].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

Type a value in the Celsius field to convert the value to Fahrenheit:



The PFAF Bookshop

Plants For A Future have a number of books available in paperback and digital form. Book titles include Edible Plants, Edible Perennials, Edible Trees,Edible Shrubs, Woodland Gardening, and Temperate Food Forest Plants. Our new book is Food Forest Plants For Hotter Conditions (Tropical and Sub-Tropical).

Shop Now

Plant Propagation

The seed is best sown as soon as it is ripe in pots in a cold frame[134]. Keep very moist, preferably by emmersing the pot in 2 -3 cm of water[200]. Germination is usually good, taking place within 1 - 2 months at 15°c[134]. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in trays of water in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Division in the middle of autumn or mid to late winter, but no later than this because the plant will be coming into growth.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Native Plant Search

Search over 900 plants ideal for food forests and permaculture gardens. Filter to search native plants to your area. The plants selected are the plants in our book 'Plants For Your Food Forest: 500 Plants for Temperate Food Forests and Permaculture Gardens, as well as plants chosen for our forthcoming related books for Tropical/Hot Wet Climates and Mediterranean/Hot Dry Climates. Native Plant Search

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Lysichiton camtschatcense Perennial0.8 5-9  LMHSNWeWa103

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


Expert comment



Botanical References


Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here

Readers comment

Deb Thiessen   Thu Apr 7 21:38:34 2005

Here in B.C., this plant is also known as Swamp Lantern. Considering the number of noses that wrinkle when one mentions the word 'skunk', I think the name Swamp Lantern does this wonderful plant much more justice.

   Tue May 2 2006

I've just come across a large patch of Lysichiton camtschatcensis, Asian skunk cabbage. Can i use it in the same way?

David   Mon Dec 14 2009

According to " A field Guide to Rocky Mountain Wildflowers"(Craighead/Davis)sometimes repeated boiling doesn't remove the stinging effect.

Add a comment

If you have important information about this plant that may help other users please add a comment or link below. Only comments or links that are felt to be directly relevant to a plant will be included. If you think a comment/link or information contained on this page is inaccurate or misleading we would welcome your feedback at [email protected]. If you have questions about a plant please use the Forum on this website as we do not have the resources to answer questions ourselves.

* Please note: the comments by website users are not necessarily those held by PFAF and may give misleading or inaccurate information.

To leave a comment please Register or login here All comments need to be approved so will not appear immediately.

Subject : Lysichiton americanus  
© 2010, Plants For A Future. Plants For A Future is a charitable company limited by guarantee, registered in England and Wales. Charity No. 1057719, Company No. 3204567.