A Jack-in-the-pulpit is a plant belonging to the species Arisaema triphyllum. This article describes poisoning caused by eating parts of this plant. The roots are the most dangerous part of the plant.
This article is for information only. DO NOT use it to treat or manage an actual poison exposure. If you or someone you are with has an exposure, call your local emergency number (such as 911), or your local poison control center can be reached directly by calling the national toll-free Poison Help hotline (1-800-222-1222) from anywhere in the United States.
The poisonous ingredient is:
- Calcium oxalate
Jack-in-the-pulpit plants are found in North America in wetlands and moist, wooded areas.
Symptoms may include:
- Blisters in the mouth
- Burning in mouth and throat
- Hoarse voice
- Increased saliva production
- Nausea and vomiting
- Pain on swallowing
- Redness, swelling, pain, and burning of the eyes, and possible corneal damage
- Swelling of mouth and tongue
Blistering and swelling in the mouth may be severe enough to prevent normal speaking and swallowing.
DO NOT make a person throw up unless told to do so by poison control or a health care provider.
Wipe out the mouth with a cold, wet cloth. Immediately give the person milk to drink, unless instructed otherwise by a provider. DO NOT give milk if the person is having symptoms (such as vomiting, seizures, or a decreased level of alertness) that make it hard to swallow.
Wash the skin with water. If the plant material touched the eyes, rinse the eyes with water.
Before Calling Emergency
Get the following information:
- Person's age, weight, and condition
- Name of the plant, if known
- Time it was swallowed
- Amount swallowed
Your local poison control center can be reached directly by calling the national toll-free Poison Help hotline (1-800-222-1222) from anywhere in the United States. This national hotline will let you talk to experts in poisoning. They will give you further instructions.
This is a free and confidential service. All local poison control centers in the United States use this national number. You should call if you have any questions about poisoning or poison prevention. It does not need to be an emergency. You can call for any reason, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
What to Expect at the Emergency Room
Wearing gloves, place the plant in a container and take it with you to the hospital, if possible.
The provider will measure and monitor the person's vital signs, including temperature, pulse, breathing rate, and blood pressure. Symptoms will be treated as appropriate.
If contact with the person's mouth is not severe, symptoms most often clear up within a few days. For people who do have severe contact with the plant, a longer recovery time may be necessary.
In rare cases, swelling may be severe enough to block the airways.
DO NOT touch or eat any plant with which you are not familiar. Wash your hands after working in the garden or walking in the woods.
Arisaema triphyllum poisoning; Bog onion poisoning; Brown dragon poisoning; Indian turnip poisoning; Wake robin poisoning; Wild turnip poisoning
Auerbach PS. Wild plant and mushroom poisoning. In: Auerbach PS, ed. Medicine for the Outdoors. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:374-404.
Graeme KA. Toxic plant ingestions. In: Auerbach PS, Cushing TA, Harris NS, eds. Auerbach's Wilderness Medicine. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 65.
Review Date 9/28/2019
Updated by: Jacob L. Heller, MD, MHA, Emergency Medicine, Emeritus, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.