Herb: Friar's Cowl

Latin name: Arisarum vulgare

Family: Araceae (Arum Family)

Edible parts of Friar's Cowl:

Root - cooked. The acrid juice should first be removed by thorough and repeated washing leaving behind a nutritious and innoxious residue. Thorough drying or cooking will also destroy any harmful elements of this root. The root is frequently used as an emergency food in times of scarcity, it is about the size of a walnut. One report suggests that the leaves might be edible. If they are they must be well cooked first.

Description of the plant:


45 cm
(1 foot)


Habitat of the herb:

Grassy places, open ground and rocky ground.

Other uses of Friar's Cowl:

A good ground-cover plant for a shady place.

Propagation of the herb:

Seed - we have no details for this species but suggest sowing the seed in a shady part of the greenhouse as soon as it is ripe in the spring if this is possible. Sow stored seed in early spring. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on for at least the first winter in a greenhouse and plant out when dormant in the summer once the tuber has reached a reasonable size. Division in spring after the plant dies down.

Cultivation of Friar's Cowl:

Grassy places, open ground and rocky ground.

Medicinal use of the herb:

None known

Known hazards of Arisarum vulgare:

The plant contains calcium oxylate crystals. These cause an extremely unpleasant sensation similar to needles being stuck into the mouth and tongue if they are eaten but they are easily neutralized by thoroughly drying or cooking the plant or by steeping it in water.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.