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Jack-in-the-Pulpit Corm: A Black Bear Delicacy

5-23-13 jack-in-the-pulpit corm 069When black bears first emerge from hibernation, they survive mainly on emerging green vegetation in wetlands. As the season progresses, there are more and more food options to choose from, including a favorite – the corm, or underground bulb-like storage structure, of Jack-in-the-Pulpit. Even though they are large, somewhat lumbering creatures, black bears dig up and remove these corms as if they had a tiny tool designed just for this purpose. They barely disturb the earth, leaving only very small holes as evidence of their presence. A friend of mine witnessed this just outside his window one spring day, and could not believe the delicacy with which the bear extracted these morsels of food from the ground. Apparently the calcium oxalate crystals in Jack-in-the-Pulpit that cause the burning sensation in human mouths doesn’t affect bears, at least not enough to protect the plant.

4 responses

  1. Moira Yip

    Perhaps it is like chilli peppers or fugu fish for people: a burn or a tingle that some people like and others hate?!

    May 22, 2013 at 4:01 pm

  2. I love Jack in the Pulpit, especially the translucent red berries in the fall. Thanks for sharing about bear food. I had no idea. Mary Ellen

    May 25, 2013 at 1:33 am

  3. This is a video of a bear in my Jack in the pulpit garden in Indian Lake NY

    January 16, 2015 at 10:40 am

    • This is fantastic, Sylvia! Thank you so much for sharing it with me (and other blog readers). I’ve never seen it, just read that it’s one of their favorite foods – what a thrill to see this!

      January 16, 2015 at 11:28 am

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