What is this plant?

12:27 p.m. on August 28, 2010 (EDT)
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Does anyone know what this plant is?

It had no leaves, just a shoot out of the ground with these pea sizes berries on the end of it. The way the berries were bunched it reminded me of corn on the cob. The entire plant was about 12 inches tall. I came across this while in the Ozark mountains.

12:47 p.m. on August 28, 2010 (EDT)
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Looks like Jack-in-the-Pulpit, Arisaema triphyllum. The leaves may die off as it sets fruit. Green parts at least are toxic.

7:49 p.m. on August 28, 2010 (EDT)
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..looks like a fruited Jack-in-the-Pulpit like BigRed said. Watch out for the root; although it's edible, it must be properly prepared before consumption.. it won't kill you if you don't, but it sure does hurt..

8:47 p.m. on August 28, 2010 (EDT)
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I pulled a jack in the pulpit root(corm)out once in the 80's during a backpacking trip and dried it hanging off a tree branch for a day or two. Like they say to do. I bit into it and POW! Felt like a wasp sting on my tongue. Oxalic acid, boys. Don't do it!

The biggest jack I ever saw was in the mountains of NC: 3 feet tall with a two inch stem.

2:19 a.m. on August 29, 2010 (EDT)
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Actually it's "raphides", microscopic crystals of calcium oxalate that are like little needles -- the irritation is physical, not chemical.

8:59 a.m. on August 29, 2010 (EDT)
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Wow that looks nasty! A picture like that really makes you want to stay away from the stuff.

11:55 a.m. on August 29, 2010 (EDT)
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Is there also a chemical toxicity with Jack in the Pulpit?

1:35 p.m. on August 29, 2010 (EDT)
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Could be, but not that I know of. The whole family (Araceae) is known for the raphides. It's mostly tropical, but includes various house plants: Philodendron, Dieffenbachia, Calla lily -- keep small kids and pets away from these. The only other northeastern ones I know are skunk cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus) and water arum (Calla palustris). The main feature of the family is the spathe and spadix floral organization; the column in the center of a jack in the pulpit is a spathe, and bears hundreds or thousands of tiny flowers -- those that get pollinated develop into the berries in the picture. For some extracurricular amusement, check out the titan arum or corpse flower from Sumatra (Amorphophallus titanum), the biggest of them all:


10:49 a.m. on August 30, 2010 (EDT)
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Good stuff, I love seeing discussion on plant identification on here.

April 21, 2018
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