Wild Flowers and Plants of NC
Jack in the Pulpit
Blooms March to June
Actually a fairly common perrenial in many areas, Jack in the Pulpit, Arisaema triphyllum, is found scattered throughout various terrains in the southern Appalachians but it can almost always be found near waterfalls or where water is running or spalshing. Three fairly large leaves radiating out from the top of the stalk are usually the most noticeable feature and the flower is often hidden beneath. The flowers appear through the spring and into the summer. Later in the summer, the flower is replaced by a black seed cluster that turns red by autumn.
American Indians used the plant medicinally for a wide variety ailments. It was used to treat rheumatism and bronchitis but also to induce sterilty. Externally it was used as a treatment for snakebite. Although one of this plants nicknames is Indian Turnip, it can only be used for food after boiling and thoroughly drying. Even then, its pungent flavor might make you reconsider. It was generally ground into meal before use. The fresh or partially dried root is too dangerous for use without medical supervision. It is intensely irritating to mucous tissue and contains calcium oxalate crystals (not good fer ya) in the fresh herb.
NC Range of Arisaema triphyllum