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Jack-in-the-pulpit has leaves with three leaflets, distinguishing it from its congener green-dragon (Arisaema dracontium), which has 5-13 leaflets per leaf. Native Americans used the roots of jack-in-the -pulpit for a large variety of medicinal purposes, especially eye and respiratory conditions. They considered the root very poisonous without careful preparation. There are three subspecies present in New England.
; throughout. Mesic forests, swamps, riparian forests, peatlands, and wetland edges. Three varieties of Arisaema triphyllum are found in our area. They are morphologically distinct and show some ecological separation. Further, there are ploidy level differences between some of the taxa. Some authors choose not to recognize these varieties because hybridization is known between them and some characters are lost in pressing and drying. However, neither of these is a valid reason for not recognizing tracheophyte taxa. Characters such as presence vs. absence of bloom on the leaf blades, fluting of the spathe tube, and orientation of the spathe flange (all lost or obscured on herbarium specimens) are best noted in the field so they can be recorded on herbarium specimen labels. Arisaema triphyllum, commonly called Jack-in-the-pulpit, is a spring woodland wildflower usually growing 1- 2' tall. Flowering plants initially produce only male flowers but become hermaphroditic as they further age (male flowers on the upper part of spadix and female on lower part). Most plants in a colony will vanish by mid-summer (become dormant), but the mature, hermaphroditic flowering plant will produce a cluster of red berries in mid to late summer which becomes visible as the spathe withers. Roots contain calcium oxalate (same chemical as in Diffenbachia or dumb cane) and are poisonous.
Arum triphyllum Linnaeus, Sp. Pl. 2: 965. 1753; Arisaema acuminatum Small; A. atrorubens (Aiton) Blume; A. polymorphum (Buckley) Chapman; A. pusillum (Peck) Nash; A. quinatum (Nuttall) Schott; A. stewardsonii Britton; A. triphyllum subsp. pusillum (Peck) Huttleston; A. triphyllum subsp. quinatum (Nuttall) Huttleston; A. triphyllum subsp. stewardsonii (Britton) Huttleston; A. triphyllum var. pusillum Peck; A. triphyllum var. stewardsonii (Britton) Stevens ex Wiegand & Eames There is no diagnostic test to confirm diagnosis. Only high index of suspicion and clear history of ingestion often gives clue for diagnosis. Treatment is often symptomatic in most of the cases, but emergency physician must be aware of potentially threatening airway and should prepare for it. One case of infant fatality is reported due to obstructed airway after ingestion of Dieffenbachia plant and another child death is reported due to vagotonia attributed to esophageal lesion caused by ingestion of philodendron leaves (Fig. 1), which contains calcium oxalate as a principle toxin similar to Arisaema triphyllum. (Source: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)