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 is for information only and not for use in the treatment or management of an actual poison exposure. If you have an exposure, you should call your local emergency number (such as 911) or the National Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.

Poisonous Ingredient

Where Found

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

Symptoms

  • 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 professional.

Wipe out the mouth with a cold, wet cloth. Immediately give the person milk to drink, unless instructed otherwise by a health care 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

Determine the following information:

  • Patient's age, weight, and condition
  • Name of the plant
  • Time it was swallowed
  • Amount swallowed

The National Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222) can be called from anywhere in the United States. This national 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.

Wearing gloves, place the plant in a container and take it with you to the hospital, if possible.

See: Poison control center - emergency number

The health care provider will measure and monitor the patient's vital signs, including temperature, pulse, breathing rate, and blood pressure. Symptoms will be treated as appropriate.

Prognosis (Outlook)

If contact with the patient's mouth is not severe, symptoms usually resolve within a few days. For patients who do have severe contact with the plant, a longer recovery time may be necessary.

Prevention

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.

References

Shofner JD, Kimball AB. Plant-induced dermatitis. In: Auerbach PS, ed. Wilderness Medicine. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Mosby Elsevier; 2011:chap 63.

Graeme, KA. Toxic plant ingestions. In: Auerbach PS, ed. Wilderness Medicine. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Mosby Elsevier; 2011:chap 64.

Review Date: 10/21/2013
Reviewed By: Jacob L. Heller, MD, MHA, Emergency Medicine, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- 2014 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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