Sunday, May 25, 2008


Jack-in-the-pulpits (Arisaema triphyllum) are blooming in the forest now. They're hard to see because they blend in so well with their surroundings. But once you DO spot one, be sure to crouch down or gently lift the hood-like spathe so you can see Jack.

The photo above is of a brown Jack-in-the pulpit, but the spathe can be purple, brown, green or even white.
And here's a green one, found the same day just a few metres from the brown one.

Last year, we found them in many places along the path. This year only two!

Jack-in-the-pulpits are sometimes called Indian Turnip. Native Americans ate the root as a vegetable…but before you try it, beware! Indian turnips must must be properly dried and cooked because the fresh root contains calcium oxalate crystals, which sting the tongue and throat. According to one account, the Meskwaki tribe poisoned their enemies by finely chopping roots and then rubbing them into meat for their foes to find. What a surprise! The "treat" is said to be flavorful but deadly within a few hours -- a painful way to die.


Small City Scenes said...

What a coincidence--I was just reading a wildflower field guide (yes it is midnight here and I am still reading) and was looking at a Jack-in-the-pulpit. I have not found one out here. MB

Shammickite said...

I ahven't seen one of these plants here but there were plenty when I lived in UK.

Neal said...

I've always liked jack-in-the-pulpits. One reason is I know spring has arrived and another is I just think they're pretty.

dot said...

What a strange looking plant and really interesting what the Natives used it for.

Tom said...

I will stick to admiring these for their beauty.. and not their taste..

Tanya Breese said...

Those are so neat. Love the stripes on them!

Chrissy said...

Yikes! That would be a painful way to die, but the plant sure is pretty.

Marcel said...

Very interesting. And very nice photos on the Jack-in-the-pulpit too.

Kris McCracken said...

Remind me to knock back a free feed from those locals!

Great pictures and a great story, I’d not heard of them before.

Anonymous said...

I had always heard that Jack in the pulpit was deadly. I read your post and believe it still to be deadly and did not know it was eaten by any Native Americans. So I learned something I didn't know. LOL

The photos of both are really nice and clear. I never saw one in my life.

Rose said...

Jack-in-the-pulpit is one of my favorite plants...I did have some in my yard...but I need to get more.

Darla said...

Cool! The brown striped one looks very Gothic to me. The idea of poisoning your enemies fits too.


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East Gwillimbury is a rural town less than an hour north of Toronto, Canada's largest city. My family calls me CameraGirl because I take my camera with me wherever I go.