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 Add this item to the list   Lysichiton americanus


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 Author(s):Hultén & H. St. John 
 Vernacular names:Moeraslantaarn (NL), American Skunkcabbage (UK) 
 Plant code - standard list:FB5528. 
 Botanical thesaurus:
 Factsheet link (English):
 Factsheet link (French):
 Factsheet link (Dutch):


Roots and stem
 Description of subterranean parts:rhizome thick, fleshy, up to 30 cm long and with a diameter of 2.5-5 cm below the ground, but sometimes also partly above ground. Roots are white and contractile.
 Description of stem:plants are generally erect, from relatively short to 1.5 m high. 
Fruit and seeds
 Description of seed:gray-brown to red-brown. 
 Description of fruit:berries green, each berry usually contains 2 (sometimes 1-4) seeds. 
 Length of seed (mm) :5 - 11 
 Description of propagule:berries green, each berry usually contains 2 (sometimes 1-4) seeds. 
 Number of propagules per plant:150 - 350 
 Description of leaf:leaves shortly petiolate with petiole shorter than the blade, entire, ovate, cuneate to subtruncate at the base, the apex obtuse to acute, shaped like a tobacco leaf, leathery in texture, with a light sheen and with thick veins. 
alternate yes
opposite no
decussate no
whorled no
 Description of inflorescence:1-2 inflorescences, scape shorter than the leaves; spatha 8-45 cm high, bright yellow on both sides, wrapped round basal part of spadix; spadix, 8-25 cm high, fleshy, which bears many small flowers. Flowers have a fetid odour. After flowering, fruits (150-350) develop along axis; with maturity of the seeds, the spadix becomes fragile, disconnects from the flower stalk and sinks to the ground close to the mother plant. Inflorescence will be formed before the development of the leaves. 
 Description of flower:L. americanus develops 1 or 2 inflorescences per plant, scape shorter than the leaves. The inflorescence is a showy spathe, surrounding a spadix which bears many small flowers, often monoecious (pistillate below, staminate above), but sometimes bisexual. The perianth segments are generally 4, sometimes 6, free or fused; tepals 4 (6). 
Color of flower:
white no
yellow yes
orange no
pink no
brown no
red no
purple no
blue no
green variable
 Description of stamens:generally 0 or 4, sometimes 6, free or fused, anthers 0.9-2 mm long. 
 Description of ovary:superior to half-inferior and sunken in inflorescence axis, (-1) 2-locular, ovules 1-2. 
 Description of stigmas:sessile, capitate. 

Additional information

 Similar species:Lysichiton camtschatcensis (L.) Schott (Asian skunk cabbage), from northern Japan and Far-eastern Russia, is similar, but has a white spathe, ca. scentless flowers, slightly smaller spathe and spadix, tepals 2-3 mm and anthers 0.6-0.8 mm. L. americanus x L. camtschatcensis, has a pale yellow spathe. 
 Look-alike link:

Distribution information

 Original distribution:western North America. 
 Current distribution:Europe: Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, UK. North America: Canada, USA: Alaska. 
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Biochemistry and molecular data

 Ploidy:2n = 28. 


Life cycle:
annual no
perennial yes
monocarp no
biennial no
Flowering time in Europe:
January no
February no
March yes
April yes
May no
June no
July no
August no
September no
October no
November no
December no
 Pollination characteristics:pollination by a variety of small insects, slugs and snails, the chief pollinator is in its native range is the beetle Pelecomalius testaceum. 
 Hardiness:hardy to -15ºC 
 Dormancy:seeds remain viable for at least 6 year in the soil. 
 Habitat requirements:L. americanus can grow in shade or full light at an altitude of 0-1400 m and can invade in natural environments e.g. the swamp forest in the Taunus Mountains of Germany. L. americanus is typically associated with cool to hot summer, very cold to cool winter, wet year round. 
 Ecological amplitude:Dominant in coastal marshes in forested or shaded areas, also often dominant in non-forested, semiterresterial communities and in understories of open canopy stands; it can grow in light (sandy) to heavy (clay) soils of acid, neutral or basic reaction, and prefers deep wet soils. It can also grows in flowing and standing water. In general it grows in marches, fens, marshy woods, bog woodlands, along streams and riverbanks, lakesides, ponds, in seepage areas, in bogs, wet marshes and other wet areas at low to middle elevations. it is a nitrophilic species, favoured by nutrient-rich wetlands. 
 Habitat in the Netherlands:found several times (on the bank of ditches and in march land). 
 Palatability:squirrels (and also bears) feeds on fruit and seeds in the native range of the species (not been observed in its introduced range). 

Invasiveness, risk and control

Dispersal mechanism:
wind ?
water variable
others variable
endozoochorous ?
ectozoochorous variable
 Invasive behavior information:It builds up dense local populations (the large leaves build up dense layers of vegetation excluding light from other species), which displace the native vegetations. It produces many seeds, and a large seedbank. 
 Toxicity:contains calcium oxalate raphides. 
 Control:L. americanus can be controlled by hand pulling, repeated cutting or other mechanical removal to exhaust the rhizomes of the plant; eradication is feasible at early stages of infestation. Measures have to be repeated with the remaining plants, and success has to be monitored for at least 10 years, due to the viability of the seedbank. No information for chemical or biological control is available. 
 Pathway of introduction:grown for ornament (can be sold in many European countries, including southern countries like Italy), but there are no indication of establishment in southern European countries. (though the first findings in Germany were accidental!). 

Link to other websites / databases

 Link to other websites_Url:


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