Photo Credit
Photo courtesy of Phil Patrie, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Jack in the pulpit

Scientific name
Arisaema triphyllum
Plant Family
Plant Group
The intriguing blossom of this woodland perennial consists of a spadix (this would be Jack) enclosed in a spathe (the pulpit).
Identification Hints

The intriguing blossom of this woodland perennial consists of a spadix (this would be Jack) enclosed in a spathe (the pulpit). The spadix is a greenish to purple color and the spathe is green, often with striking purple and white striping on the underside. It has three distinct leaves. The fruits are tiny green berries that cluster on the spadix. The berries turn bright red when they ripen.

Did You Know?

Jack-in-the-pulpit produces crystals of calcium oxalate, which is toxic to herbivores. Researchers in Wisconsin have found that this plant has increased in abundance in forest understories over the past several decades, possibly because these crystals help it to deter white-tailed deer.

Leaves
Jack-in-the-pulpits have two compound leaves on long stalks (1 to 3 ft; 30 to 90 cm) with three large, oblong leaflets. Each leaflet is 3 to 6 in (8 to 15 cm) long, and 1 to 3 in (3 to 7 cm) broad. The side leaflets are distinctly uneven (asymmetrical). The leaves extend well beyond the flower parts, and are green and mottled brown.
Flowers
Flowers are very tiny, less than a ¼ in (less than ½ cm) and range from yellow to white. Flowers are tightly arranged on a cylindrical, round-tipped spadix (this would be Jack), which is emerging from the spathe (the pulpit), a structure that appears leaf-like. The spathe is green with purple veins, and surrounds the spadix in a cuplike cylinder, with an extension of the leaf-like spathe protruding like a hood over the cup-like opening. The flower produces a rotting smell, to attract its’ fly pollinators. Flowers bloom from April to June.
Fruits
A round cluster of small, red berries cover the spadix. Each berry produces 1 to 5 seeds
Habitat
Jack-in-the-pulpit grows in fertile, moist woodlands, partial sun to shade, in sandy, loamy soil. Found from Manitoba south to Texas, and east to the Atlantic Ocean.
States
AL, AR, CT, DE, FL, GA, IA, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, NC, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NY, OH, OK, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, VA, VT, WI, WV