Botanical name: Arum maculatum, Arum italicum
Common name: Cuckoo pint, parson and clerk, parson in the pulpit, cows and calves, wake robin, jack in the green, devil’s men and women, priest’s pintle, adam and eve, starch root, cheese and toast, Jack in the pulpit, sonsie give us your hand, soldier’s diddies, devils and angels, cows and bulls .
Physical appearance: Caution! This plant is often inadvertently mistaken for sorrel or wild garlic. Unlike sorrel which has pointed leaf tails, Arum maculatum has rounded leaf tails. Young leaves look very similar to wild garlic and often grow in and around wild garlic (just to add to the confusion). However, it can be distinguished from wild garlic as it does not have the pungent smell of wild garlic.
Best places to find: A shade loving plant, it is common among hedgerows and woodlands but can be found in more exposed areas such as in open fields. The Arum is a native of Europe, Turkey and the Caucuses. In the UK there are two species that are common: Arum maculatum (which has green leaves with some black/dark purple markings) and Arum italicum which has green and white variegated leaves.
Edible parts: This plant is entirely poisonous!!!! Do not consume under any circumstances. Due to its high content of calcium oxalate crystals, this plant can cause extreme skin irritation These crystals are like tiny needles. If eaten, they cause thousands of tiny cuts which in turn can cause severe irritation and swelling of the throat and trachea, which can lead to more severe complications such as breathing difficulties, stomach pain and a burning pain. The red berries are also extremely poisonous!!!
Time of year: February to September
Point of interest: some of the worst reported injuries caused by this plant have occurred as a result of its use a substitute toilet paper!!! Ouch!!!
Photos courtesy of:
Sansse via Wikipedia Creative Commons Attribution (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)
Frank Vincenz via Wikipedia http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/
Written by Big D