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Jack-in-the-Pulpit Fruits Maturing

jack in pulpit fruit 022After the spathe (hood) dies back, Jack-in-the-pulpit fruit is more obvious, especially as the green berries turn brilliant reddish-orange at this time of year. Eventually the stem withers and the seed head falls to the ground. The tissues of Jack-in-the-pulpit, particularly the roots, contain high toxic levels of oxalic acid. The berries, if eaten, cause a burning sensation in the mouth and throat due to physical cuts caused by the crystals of calcium oxalate. Although cattle, goats, pigs and sheep are susceptible to the toxin, white-tailed deer, wild turkeys and wood thrushes appear to consume them without distress. As is obvious from this photograph, though, the berries are not in high demand.

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9 responses

  1. Susan Holland

    They may not be in high demand for food, but they certainly make for a beautiful photograph!

    September 22, 2014 at 12:56 pm

  2. Penny March

    Doesn’t the soil nutrition determine the sex of the plant? High=female flower(and berries), medium=male flower, low=just leaves.

    September 22, 2014 at 12:58 pm

  3. Val Cunningham

    Interesting report, Mary, and I’d like to add that my husband has seen catbirds consuming jack in the pulpit berries in the early fall.

    September 22, 2014 at 6:22 pm

  4. Elizabeth

    Important food source for bears, too, according to Ben Kilham.

    September 22, 2014 at 9:37 pm

    • Interesting. I knew they liked the corms, but didn’t know about the berries!

      September 22, 2014 at 9:46 pm

  5. That is awesomely weird-looking.

    September 22, 2014 at 9:45 pm

  6. Bob and Inge

    Gorgeous. Mother Nature is incredibly talented, and so are you.

    September 23, 2014 at 1:29 am

  7. I recently learned this plant is an important food for our Black Bears thanks to Ben Kilham’s studies, workshops and book(s); (“Among the Bears:..”), and most recently: “Out On a Limb”

    September 23, 2014 at 2:36 pm

  8. judilindsey@comcast.net

    Wow! I love the vibrant color and the interesting info on the toxicity of it! Thanks, Judi    

    September 27, 2014 at 5:54 pm

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