Rent Shop Volunteer Join

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

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.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?


Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

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

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

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


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.


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 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.

More Edible Plants Questions

Digging sassafras roots in Oklahoma
March 11, 2009 - When should I dig sassafras roots in eastern Oklahoma?
view the full question and answer

Petals of flowers on cake from London
August 28, 2010 - Hi could you confirm that Gemini, Lisianthus and Lilies are non toxic if positioned onto a fresh cream cake (stem will be paced into a vial but the petals will come into contact with the cream). Thank...
view the full question and answer

Negative and positive effects of invasive dandelions from Rama Ontario
January 12, 2012 - How do Dandelions have a negative impact of being a invasive and a Positive impact of being a invasive species ?
view the full question and answer

Wild plum tree failing to bloom from Simonton TX
May 04, 2013 - I have a wild plum tree that has been in the ground for 3 or 4 years and it has not ever flowered. Why? I don't know what kind it is. I dug it up from a friends yard. Her wild plum trees have flowere...
view the full question and answer

Blueberries in Arlington TX
August 25, 2009 - Which wild or native blueberries can I grow in Arlington Texas? I think it is zone 8?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.