Arisaema atrorubens: A Unique and Edible Wildflower
Arisaema atrorubens, also known as bloody arum, jack-in-the-pulpit, Indian turnip, or wake-robin, is a tuberous perennial plant native to North America. It belongs to the family Araceae, which includes many other plants with distinctive spathes and spadices, such as calla lilies and philodendrons.
Arisaema atrorubens grows in damp woods and swamps, where it produces a single flower in spring. The flower consists of a long, brown spadix that bears tiny male and female flowers at its base, surrounded by a green and brown striped spathe that forms a hood over the spadix. The spadix resembles a person standing in a pulpit, hence the common name jack-in-the-pulpit. The spathe also protects the spadix from rain and insects.
After the flowering period, the spadix develops into a cluster of bright red berries that are attractive to birds and mammals. The berries contain seeds that can germinate in the soil or be dispersed by animals. The plant also has large, elliptical leaves with prominent veins that grow in groups of three or less on a separate stem.
Arisaema atrorubens is an edible plant that has been used by Native Americans for food and medicine. The underground corms (fleshy stems) can be cooked and eaten like potatoes or turnips. However, they must not be consumed raw, as they contain needle-like crystals of calcium oxalate and other chemicals that cause a burning sensation in the mouth and throat. Cooking destroys these compounds and makes the corms safe to eat.
Arisaema atrorubens is a unique and edible wildflower that adds interest and color to the woodland landscape. It is also a valuable source of food and medicine for humans and animals alike.
Some of the benefits of eating Arisaema atrorubens corms are that they are rich in starch, protein, and minerals. They can also help treat coughs, colds, asthma, and rheumatism. The corms can be boiled, roasted, fried, or dried and ground into flour. They can also be fermented to make a sour drink or a vinegar-like condiment.
However, eating Arisaema atrorubens corms also has some risks and drawbacks. The corms must be harvested carefully, as they are often confused with other poisonous plants, such as skunk cabbage or false hellebore. The corms must also be cooked thoroughly, as undercooked corms can still cause irritation and inflammation in the mouth and digestive system. Moreover, the corms have a strong and unpleasant odor that can linger on the hands and clothes of the harvester and the cook.
Arisaema atrorubens is not only a food plant, but also a decorative plant that can be grown in gardens or containers. The plant prefers moist and shady conditions, and can tolerate acidic and clayey soils. The plant can be propagated by seeds or by dividing the corms. The plant is resistant to most pests and diseases, but can be affected by slugs, snails, deer, and rodents.
Arisaema atrorubens is a versatile and fascinating plant that deserves more attention and appreciation. It is a plant that can feed, heal, and beautify humans and animals alike.