BackgroundThe genus Arisaema (Areaceae), popularly known as cobra lilies and jack in pulpit is mainly found in temperate to tropical areas of all continents except South America, Europe and Australia and contain about more than 250 species. Arisaema genus is being used by the different folks of human populations for medicinal as well as food purposes. Arisaema plants are used for the treatment of different types of diseases. There have been several attempts to highlight different aspects of genus Arisaema by describing it in terms of phytochemistry and medicinal uses. The present study is, however, an attempt to put together all the former data available related to the phytochemistry and medicinal uses of genus Arisaema.Main bodyThe phytochemicals of the plant include alkaloids, phenols, terpenes, flavonoids, lectins, saponins, glycosides, triterpenoids, stigmasterols, n-alkanes, n-alkanols sitosterols, campesterol, oxalates, coumarins, tannins etc. Moreover, the properties such as antioxidant, antifungal, antibacterial, insecticidal, antimicrobial, cytotoxic, nematocidal, antiallergic antitumour and anticancer activities are also shown by the plants belonging to genus Arisaema. Arisaema plants have been traditionally used to treat various ailments such as resolving phlegm, dampness, and to treat asthma, bronchitis, cold, cough, and laryngitis etc. It has been found that there are several species which are toxic by nature. The development of clinical applications of arisaematis rhizomes had been seriously constrained due to its toxic properties like, mouth and lingua pain, even respiration slowing and suffocation, mucous membrane and skin irritation etc. and this toxicity of arisaematis rhizomes is due to raphide components.ConclusionsThe collection of data available on the phytochemistry of genus Arisaema is not sufficient as further work is required to do on phytochemical and medicinal basis. The data available on phytochemistry and medicinal properties of the plants belonging to genus Arisaema throws light on various species of Arisaema which are medicinally important and have been exploited to treat different types of diseases in the world.