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Jack-in-the-pulpit poisoning

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 center can be reached directly by calling the national toll-free Poison Help hotline (1-800-222-1222) from anywhere in the United States.

Poisonous Ingredient

The poisonous ingredient is:

  • Calcium oxalate

Where Found

Jack-in-the-pulpit plants are found in North America in wetlands and moist, wooded areas.

Symptoms

Symptoms may include:

  • Burning in mouth and throat
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Slurred speech
  • Swelling of mouth and tongue
  • Teary eyes

Blistering and swelling in the mouth may be severe enough to prevent normal speaking and swallowing.

Home Care

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, convulsions, 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

Poison Control

Your local poison 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 hotline number 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.

Outlook (Prognosis)

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.

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.

Alternative Names

Arisaema triphyllum poisoning; Bog onion poisoning; Brown dragon poisoning; Indian turnip poisoning; Wake robin poisoning; Wild turnip poisoning

References

Graeme KA. Toxic plant ingestions. In: Auerbach PS, ed. Wilderness Medicine. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2012:chap 64.

Shofner JD, Kimball AB. Plant-induced dermatitis. In: Auerbach PS, ed. Wilderness Medicine. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2012:chap 63.

Update Date 11/4/2015

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