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Jack-in-the-Pulpit

Arisaema triphyllum

The jack-in-the-pulpit can be found across the Chesapeake Bay watershed, growing in the moist and shaded soils of forests, woodlands, bogs and swamps. (capn madd matt/Flickr)
The jack-in-the-pulpit can be found across the Chesapeake Bay watershed, growing in the moist and shaded soils of forests, woodlands, bogs and swamps. (capn madd matt/Flickr)

Also known as bog onion or Indian turnip, the jack-in-the-pulpit is a perennial plant in the Arum family, which includes relatives like skunk cabbage and arrow arum. Its hooded flower blooms in the spring and gives the plant its common name.

Appearance:

This plant grows one to three feet tall and features one to two large glossy leaves, each divided into three leaflets. Its large hooded and striped flower blooms in spring on separate stalk, at the height of the leaves. The flower appears in shades of green, greenish-white and purple, and features a pouch-shaped spathe ("pulpit") and fingerlike central spadix ("jack"), which give the plant its common name. Its flower produces a mace-like cluster of red or scarlet berries in the fall. 

Habitat:

The jack-in-the-pulpit thrives in moist, shady and seasonally wet locations and can be found in forests, woodlands, bogs and swamps. 

Range:

Native to Canada and the eastern and midwestern United States, this plant can be found across the Chesapeake Bay watershed. 

Predators:

Birds and mammals feed on the plant's berries.

Reproduction and Life Cycle:

An underground corm, or swollen section of the stem, functions as a food reservoir from which the plant emerges in spring. The plant emits a fungal smell that attracts insects to the flower. The flower's pouch-shaped spathe keeps insects confined and ensures pollination occurs. The flower produces a mace-like cluster of red or scarlet berries in fall before dying back in winter. Home growers can propagate the plant by root division or seed. 

Other Facts:

  • The berries, foliage and roots are poisonous to humans, although the roots can be eaten if cooked or dried for at least six months 

Sources and Additional Information:




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