Araceae / Arum
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Historical Lore: Calcium oxalate crystals present in the entire plant will cause a powerful burning sensation if eaten raw. Properly drying or cooking removes this effect and the Native Americans used the root as a vegetable. There is one account stating that the Meskwaki Indians would put finely chopped root into meat they would leave for their enemies to find, principally the Sioux. The meat was flavorful and would be consumed, but, in a few hours these enemies would be in so much pain they would die! It is reported that they also used it diagnostically by dropping a seed in a cup of water and if the seed went around four times clockwise the patient would recover and if less the patient would die.
Medical Uses: Despite its possible irritating effects there are several accounts of Native Americans
using a preparation of the root on sore eyes. It was also used for cold symptoms and as a tonic. Externally it has been
used for various skin infections and against pain and swelling.
Warning: No part of the fresh plant should be taken internally.
One of the best general guides to wildflowers of the North Eastern and North Central United States. Newcomb's key is an excellent, simple method for identifying plants. Newcomb has drawings for almost every plant mentioned that are excellent aids to identifying the species. Though only the more common plants are covered this is often the first book I pick up when trying to identify a wildflower.
This is perhaps the best of many field guides covering this region. Featuring 446 excellent color photographs (located with the text) and mentioning as similar to those illustrated are another 800 or so species for a total coverage of over 1,200 species. The start of each family section includes line drawings of some of the species showing important features. The text includes the usual description, bloom season, range, habitat and additionally includes information such as medical uses and lore and how the species was named. This is the official field guide of the Tennessee Native Plant Society.
Angiosperms / Flowering Plants
Monocots / One Seed Leaf
Jack in the Pulpit