Jack-in-the Pulpit

Jack-in-the pulpit, Arisaema triphyllum, Arum Family (Arcaceae)

Description: Distinctive “Jack-in-the pulpit” formation grows beneath large leaves. Flowers: curving ridged hood (the spathe or “pulpit”), green or purplish-brown, often streaked or mottled, envelops an erect club (the spadi or “Jack”) 2-3″ (5-7.5 cm) long. Spadix bears tiny seperate male and female flowers at the base. Leaves: 1 or usually 2, long-stemmed, 3-parted, veined, dull green. Fruit: cluster of shiny red berries on spadix in late summer and fall. Height: 1-3′.

Flowering: April-June

Habitat: Damp Woods and swamps.

Range: Southern Quebec and New Brunswick; south through Appalachians and coastal plain to Florida; west to Louisiana and eastern Texas.

Comments: Some authorities recognize one species, and others three, based on minor differences in leaves, spathe, and size. Because of needle-like calcium oalate crystals in the underground tuber, it is peppery to the taste and causes a strong burning reaction if eaten raw. This unpleasant property can be eliminated by cooking, and Native Americans gathered the fleshy taproots (corms) as a vegetable.

All flower resources taken from: Niering, William A., Olmstead, Nancy C., National Audobon Society Field Guide to North American Wildlowers. 1979, Chanticleer Press, INC.