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Skunk Cabbage Invasion

Skunk cabbage invasion

Fishery board, volunteers and Crown Estate Scotland join forces to tackle Skunk Cabbage invasion

‘Garden escapee’ American skunk-cabbage is set to be eradicated from Glenlivet Estate in the Cairngorms National Park, with the help of the Spey Fishery Board and Cairngorms Volunteer Rangers.

Managed by Crown Estate Scotland, Glenlivet Estate is working to stop the spread of the non-native species, after discovering the invader alongside a burn in boggy woodland. American skunk-cabbage spreads via seeds down water courses and can out-compete native plants in damp habitats.

The Glenlivet Estate team has enlisted the help of the Cairngorms Volunteer Rangers to remove the plants, which are difficult to dig up due to their rhizome roots which consist of one strong horizontal stem of a plant with roots and shoots branching out from its nodes. It is expected that there will be regrowth for several years, which will need to be treated with pesticide, to hopefully stop the spread of the plant before it reaches the River Avon in Strathspey

Vicky Hilton, Countryside Manager at Crown Estate Scotland, said: “We value the native biodiversity of the Glenlivet Estate, which supports at least 23 ‘priority species of conservation concern’. It is essential that we remove any non-native invasive species and we’ve been greatly helped by the Cairngorms Volunteer Rangers and The Spey Fishery Board.”

The Spey Fishery Board has provided specialist advice on eradicating the plants and will be able to assist with specialised pesticide application, likely to be carried out during Spring 2018.

Brian Shaw, Biologist at the Spey Fishery Board said: “It is essential to manage the spread of invasive non-native species, raising public awareness about their damaging effects. Rivers can be a good conduit for the spread of American skunk-cabbage, so we were eager to work with Glenlivet Estate to control and remove the plant.”

American skunk-cabbage, also known as swamp lantern, was originally brought to the UK from the United States during the early twentieth century. Planted around ponds, the plant’s name is fitting due to its unpleasant smell.