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Scientific Name:Arisaema Triphyllum
Common Name(s): Jack in the pulpit
Parts Used: root
nell67 30 Aug, 2008
If you are lucky enough to view many of these plants in different areas you may notice three distinct forms. Some botanist classify them all as variations on a single species and others as three separate species.
Historical Lore: Calcium oxalate crystals present in the entire plant will cause a powerful burning sensation if eaten raw. Properly drying or cooking removes this effect and the Native Americans used the root as a vegetable. There is one account stating that the Meskwaki Indians would put finely chopped root into meat they would leave for their enemies to find, principally the Sioux. The meat was flavorful and would be consumed, but, in a few hours these enemies would be in so much pain they would die! It is reported that they also used it diagnostically by dropping a seed in a cup of water and if the seed went around four times clockwise the patient would recover and if less the patient would die.
Medical Uses: Despite its possible irritating effects there are several accounts of Native Americans using a preparation of the root on sore eyes. It was also used for cold symptoms and as a tonic. Externally it has been used for various skin infections and against pain and swelling.
Warning: No part of the fresh plant should be taken internally.