Thursday, 4 October 2012

Skunk Cabbage invades Scotland

RSPB Scotland has warned that Skunk Cabbage, an invasive plant species from America, is encroaching on its Insh Marshes reserve in Scotland, posing a threat to native wild plants.  

Karen Sutcliffe, site manager of the reserve in Strathspey, said: “American Skunk Cabbage is wildly available in garden centres for use in boggy gardens. However, it can all too easily get into the wider countryside where it can become an invasive pest. Unfortunately, it has reached Insh Marshes, where there is a danger of it getting out of hand and out-competing our native species. Fortunately we have a great team of volunteers at Insh Marshes who have been working hard to eradicate it from the reserve. But it’s a big job, as we have to be careful to remove all the roots and, of course, we would rather spend our time doing other conservation work.” 

She added: “I would ask any gardeners who have this plant to keep an eye on it and not to let it get into any nearby watercourses.” 

Skunk Cabbage is a close relative of the familiar Arum Lily, which is native to Britain and a member of the same family, the Araceae. Skunk Cabbage originates from north-east Asia and western North America, where it grows in waterlogged areas alongside rivers and lakes, and produces a strong scent that is very attractive to pollinating insects. The species outcompetes native wetland plants like Yellow Flag and several reed and sedge species, and is already established at many sites across England.

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