Monkey Puzzle Cornish cross base And what is skunk Cabbage? by Barry West

Cornwall has a special relationship with Araucaria araucana, the first large specimen of which was bought by Sir William Molesworth of Pencarrow for 20 guineas and planted in solemn state before a house party. Noted barrister Charles Austin remarked upon touching its prickly leaves, “It would be a puzzle for a monkey”. His oft-repeated witticism gave the tree its common name of Monkey Puzzle.

William Lobb of Cornwall
From 1840 to 1844, and 1845 to 1848, William Lobb collected in South America, sending back plants from Brazil, Argentina, Ecuador, Peru and beyond to Panama, and especially from Chile. From 1849 he worked in western North America, in Oregon and California, where he settled until his death on 3 May 1864.
William introduced a host of outstanding plants and is responsible for the widespread cultivation of iconic conifers.
One of which was the Araucaria araucana (monkey puzzle)

The skunk cabbage plant may be unusual, and stinky, but it is also quite interesting and uses for skunk cabbage in the garden could actually be beneficial. So, what is skunk cabbage? Skunk cabbage is a perennial wildflower that grows in swampy, wet areas of forest lands. This unusual plant sprouts very early in the spring and has an odd chemistry that creates its own heat, often melting the snow around itself as it first sprouts in the spring.

American skunk cabbage was first recorded in the wild in 1947 in Surrey and was originally introduced to the UK from Western North America as an ornamental plant in 1901. Since then it has spread across Britain, particularly in southern and western areas.

Once established the plant can spread quickly. Infestations can dominate large areas and crowd out native species in important habitats such as wet woodlands. Its name is fitting as this plant has a characteristic pungent scent.

In 2016, American skunk cabbage was banned from sale in the UK. Now gardeners are being urged to make sure that they dispose of plants correctly and ensure they do not discard this species in the natural environment.

Ancient Cross base

As an inscribed cross-base this stone is unique in Cornwall unless the Doniert Stone (St Cleer 2) is included,

Base: in hedgerow, Nunnery Hill, Lanhadron Farm, on right (east side) of unclassified road from St Ewe to Polgooth. Shaft: lost

Evidence for Discovery
Probably first recorded 1803 in present location when base and shaft both existed (Polwhele 1803, ii, 199n–200n; see Okasha 1993, 129–32, no. 19). By 1880, only base remained, buried in present location (Iago 1878–81, 398). Probably unburied by 1895 (Langdon, Arthur and Allen, J. R. 1895, 51). An eighteenth-century manuscript (British Library MS Stowe 1023) contains drawing of cross-base and, beside it, a vertical column containing lettering which was presumably the text from the shaft