Arisaema triphyllum ssp. triphyllum Araceae

Native distribution

Native to the Finger Lakes Region


A 12-28' tall plant with a striped spathe and, if female, red berries.
Light: shade
Moisture and Soil: moist, rich soil


Seed Treatment and Storage: KEEP SEED MOIST & cool until sown. It will be two years before above-ground growth is visible.

Biocultural value

The acridity of Jack-in-the-pulpit roots is not dispelled by boiling, but dry heat or prolonged exposure to air will ultimately break up the calcium oxalate crystals. The dried roots can then be ground and processed into a palatable flour, which is said to have a mild cocoa flavor. The Potawatomi ate the thinly sliced roots after cooking them in a pit oven for three days. The Pawnee made rattles by putting Jack-in-the-pulpit seeds in a gourd shell. Many Native American groups recognized the plant's poisonous properties, with the Meskwaki reportedly even using it as an intentional poison during war. The plant was also prepared medicinally throughout its range. The Haudenosaunee, for example, employed Jack-in-the-pulpit as an analgesic, antidiarrheal, dermatological aid, febrifuge, orthopedic aid, stimulant, and eye medicine. Haudenosaunee women also took an infusion of Arisaema triphyllum var. triphyllum rhizomes for temporary sterility.

The statement above was sourced from:
Native American Ethnobotany Database: http://naeb.BRIT Native American Ethnobotany Database.org/

Wildlife value

Jack-in-the-pulpit flowers are pollinated by fungus gnats (Sciaridae and Mycetophilidae) and the larvae of parasitic thrips (in particular the specialist species Heterothrips arisaemae). Ring-necked pheasants, wild turkey, and wood thrush eat small amounts of the bright red fruit.



Poisonous description

Jack-in-the-pulpit produces needle-like crystals of calcium oxalate which become embedded in mucus membranes if ingested and cause intense irritation and a burning sensation. Calcium oxalate is particularly prevalent in the rhizome. Those who eat it rarely move beyond the first mouthful.


Mundy Wildflower Garden, Coy Glen, Fischer Old-growth Forest, McDaniel Meadow, Woods, and Swamp, McLean Bogs, Eames Bog, Ringwood Ponds