Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
Northeast Wetland Flora
Field Office Guide to Plant Species
Arisaema triphyllum (L.) Schott
- Family: Aroid (Araceae)
- Flowering: April-July
- Field Marks: This species is readily distinguished by its leaves with 3 leaflets and its spike of
flowers protected by an arching spathe.
- Habitat: Rich woods, wet woods, swamps, damp thickets.
- Habit: Perennial herb from a spherical tuber.
- Stems: Upright, smooth, up to 3 feet tall, bearing a single spike (spadix) and overarching sheath but
- Leaves: Arising from the base of the plant, divided into 3 leaflets, the leaflets broadly elliptic to ovate,
pointed at the tip, tapering to the often asymmetrical base, smooth, toothless, pinnately veined, up to
10 inches long.
- Flowers: Male and female borne separately but crowded on the same spike (spadix), the male flowers
at the upper end of the spike, the female flowers near the lower end, the spike up to 3 inches long,
blunt at the tip, sterile at the base; spike protected by an arching spathe, the spathe up to 4 inches
long, up to 3 inches wide, green or purple-striped or purple.
- Sepals: 0.
- Petals: 0.
- Stamens: 2-5.
- Pistils: Ovary superior.
- Fruits: Many berries in a conical head up to 3 inches long, the berries bright red, spherical,
up to 1/3 inch in diameter, containing 1-3 seeds.
- Notes: This is a most variable species with regard to size of the plants and coloration of the spathes.
The underground tuber is extremely sharp to the taste and irritating to mouth tissue, although it can
be eaten after being boiled several times.
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