A large and varied genus

“Water Banana”

Pam and I ambled around the Arboretum for our Easter 2023 outing. We discovered this seeming lily growing from the muck along the Treman Woodland Walk. Scientific Name: Lysichiton camtschatcensis. Common names: Asian skunk cabbage, white skunk cabbage, Far Eastern swamp lantern or Japanese swamp lantern.

This is a plant found in swamps and wet woods, along streams and in other wet areas of the Kamchatka Peninsula, the Kuril Islands, Sakhalin and northern Japan. The common name “skunk cabbage” is used for the genus Lysichiton, which includes Lysichiton americanus, the western skunk cabbage, noted for its unpleasant smell. The Asian skunk cabbage is more variable: plants have been reported in different cases to smell disgusting, not at all, and sweet.

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All photography using the IPhone 14 ProMax triple camera, raw format, edited on the phone.

In Japanese it is known as mizubashō (lit. “water-banana”) from a supposed similarity to the Japanese banana, a name with poetic rather than malodorous associations. It is not closely related to the true cabbage.

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