(Arisaema triphyllum) The spadix is the 'Jack', and the spathe is the 'pulpit' (Parson-in-the-pulpit is another name for it). Keep a piece in the pocket as a preventive against rheumatism (H M Hyatt). African-Americans in the southern states of the USA look on it as a protective plant. They would take the leaves and rub them on the hands, and that would blind an enemy. But they use it to make charms to bring security and peace, and to protect them from enemies (Puckett). The leaves are luck-bringers, if you carry them on the person. For centuries it was regarded as an aphrodisiac (Whittle & Cook) (the spadix in the spathe is expressive enough). But this is a poison, inasmuch as the rhizomes are extremely acrid. They are certainly edible after boiling, for that reduces the poison, though the acrid principle is never entirely eliminated.
It has been used as a medicine by both native American Indians and Caucasian immigrants, and also by African Americans, who take the root tea for kidney and liver problems (Fontenot). The Hopi used the powdered dried root (a teaspoonful in half a glass of cold water) as a contraceptive, lasting a week. Two teaspoons of a hot infusion would bring permanent sterility, so they said (Weiner). Another use of the root, pounded, is for a poultice to put on sore eyes. Small doses of the partially dried rhizome are used to treat chronic bronchitis, asthma and rheumatism, the latter also treated by the Pawnees with the powdered rhizome (Corlett).
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