Jack-in-the-pulpit

April 22, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

Jack-in-the-pulpitJack-in-the-pulpit

 

I took a walk this morning and came across a Jack-in-the-pulpit. They're fairly common, but you do have to look closely to find them. After processing the image, I looked up the plant and found some interesting facts.

 

Arisaema triphyllum (jack-in-the-pulpit, bog onion, brown dragon, Indian turnip, American wake robin or wild turnip) is a herbaceous perennial plant growing from a corm. It is a highly variable species typically growing 12–26 inches in height with three-parted leaves and flowers contained in a spadix that is covered by a hood. It is native to eastern North America, occurring in moist woodlands and thickets from Nova Scotia west to Minnesota, and south to southern Florida and Texas.

 

The plant contains calcium oxalate crystals and because of this, consumption of the raw plant material results in a powerful burning sensation. It can cause irritation of the mouth and digestive system, and on rare occasions the swelling of the mouth and throat may be severe enough to affect breathing.

 

A preparation of the root was reported to have been used by Native Americans as a treatment for sore eyes, to treat rheumatism, bronchitis and snakebites, as well as to induce sterility.

 

One account from the Meskwaki Indians states that they would chop the herb's corm and mix it with meat and leave the meat out for their enemies to find. The taste of the oxalate would not be detectable because of the flavored meat, but consuming the meat reportedly caused their enemies pain and death. They also used it to determine the fate of the sick by dropping a seed in a cup of stirred water; If the seed went around four times clockwise, the patient would recover, if it went around less than four times they would not.

 


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