Lysichiton americanus, also known as the Yellow Skunk Cabbage, is a small shrub native to western North America, usually growing between two and five feet in height. This unusual plant is one of few that can thrive in the full sun or in semi-shade, making it ideal to brighten up those harder-to-reach areas of the garden. It can also be grown as a bog or aquatic plant, and will require regular waterings to ensure its best performance.
The plant is highly recognisable by its large green leaves, and by its characteristic yellow or orange flowers that are often seen from late spring to midsummer. Its flowers give off a strong, unpleasant smell and have earned the Yellow Skunk Cabbage the nickname 'skunk cabbage'.
The Yellow Skunk Cabbage has a long and well-established history in ethnobotanical medicine. It has been used to treat a variety of ails, from stomach upset to body aches and pains. However, due to its high level of calcium oxylate it can be irritating when ingested, and so must be used with caution.
The Yellow Skunk Cabbage is surprisingly hardy, and can survive in USDA Zone 5 to 10. It can also be grown in colder climates, as long as it is planted in a pot so that it can be brought indoors during the winter. It also has a natural flood tolerance, with its thick rhizome network helping it to survive periods of flooding.
Care of the plant is relatively simple. Ensure it is watered regularly during the growing season, and protect it during colder temperatures by bringing it indoors. An established Yellow Skunk Cabbage should require minimal care to keep it looking at its best.