Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Elterwater's biodiversity under threat?

The reed beds and Touch me not balsam stands at Elterwater are being invaded by the American skunk cabbage, a perennial plant with an estimated life span of over 80 years! 

National Trust Rangers are digging up smaller plants, and destroying the seed pods of older specimens. The aim is to limit the spread of skunk cabbage,and prevent it from displacing the native plants at Elterwater.

Image of small skunk cabbage, freshly dug up. Note size of root system

Image of skunk cabbage growing in Touch me not balsam stand and reeds.Young Balsam seedlings in 1/2 moon shape around skunk cabbage

Image of large stand of older skunk cabbage. Note younger plants in right foreground.

Image of medium size skunk cabbage just dug up with a lot of effort! Note massive root system

One of the largest skunk cabbages we found...we nicknamed it GODZILLA! To put things in perspective, the chain saw boot is a size 10.

A trailer full of skunk cabbage.

These plants represent a small proportion of invasive species that are threatening our countryside; the National Trust and many other organisations, with help from volunteers, are making a stand against such species. 

A lot of resources are also used to try and combat the spread of Himalayan Balsam and Japanese Knotweed. Please keep checking the blog for more posts about this issue.


  1. Good work. The New Forest is also under threat from this invasive smelly plant!

  2. The Garden centre near us sell this plant. I presume it is legal.

    1. At the moment Skunk Cabbage is legal and can be sold. Example can be found in National Trust gardens but seed head removal is a good method to stop the spread in sensitive areas.

  3. Most Nature organisations would very much like skunk cabbage banned.
    With the best of intentions, it is very hard to stop it escaping from gardens and into the wild. Grasmere, Elterwater, and Windermere are all areas I have seen to be at risk; there are many more that I have heard about.

  4. On record it's the wettest june
    It had better stop raining soon.
    We are up to our knees
    with non-native species
    and skunk cabbage is making us swoon!

    1. Yes, the smell of skunk cabbage is dire
      it really should be on a fire
      the more I see of this plant
      the more I shout and rant,
      " Hoi! Build the pyre higher and higher!"