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A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Tuesday - July 07, 2009

From: Toronto, ON
Region: Canada
Topic: Edible Plants
Title: Who ate the Jack-in-the-Pulpit in Ontario?
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Something has dug up my clump of Jack-in-the-pulpit at my parents' cottage in the Haliburtons (Ontario, Canada). Leaves, berries and roots are gone. We know we have a black bear who likes our composter. Would a bear dig up the whole plant? I thought they caused a burning sensation in the mouth when eaten.

ANSWER:

Not being too personally familiar with either bears or Jack-in-the-Pulpits, since neither grow in Texas to any extent, we did a little research. On the kidcyber.com website Bear Facts, the question "What do bears eat?" was posed. The answer is, like humans, bears are omnivores and they will eat almost anything. Among the foods listed for the American black bear were nuts, berries, fruits, acorns, roots, plants, insects, baby deer and moose. Did the bear know the root would cause a burning sensation in the mouth if it wasn't cooked first? No, but it was a good-looking plant with a nice root, so he tried it. Maybe he knows now.
 

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