For the third year running, we are about to carryout control of American Skunk Cabbage at a site in the New Forest.
This work is part of the invasive non-native species control as part of the Heritage Lottery Funded New Forest ‘Our Past, Our Future’ Landscape Partnership Scheme.
American skunk cabbage is a large, imposing perennial producing paddle-shaped leaves up to 1.5 metres tall and yellow arum-like flowers in spring that are spectacular but foul-smelling (hence the name). Originally, from western North America, it was widely available from garden centres and nurseries for planting besides ponds and in bog gardens.
It spreads vigorously in wet woodland, wetlands and ditches, forming dense stands that out-compete native vegetation by shading and smothering. Reproduction by seed in the wild is frequent. It has been reported in at least 10 EU countries.
Under the EU Invasive Alien Species Regulation, it is an offence in the UK to intentionally keep, cultivate, bred, transport, sell or exchange this species or intentionally release it into the environment. Furthermore, the UK is required to take all necessary steps to prevent its unintentional introduction or spread.
The large site presents awkward access bordering a lake and approximately 1 hectare of boggy woodland, requiring a long walk in full PPE with a heavy Knapsack sprayer. Due to the densities of the plants, we have used spray paint to mark individual plants and a flag system to help navigate the woodland.
Our aim is to treat the plants before they have a chance to set seed. In this way, we will control the population and see it reduce year on year.