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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:

  • Grows one to three feet tall 
  • Features one to two large glossy leaves, each divided into three leaflets
  • Large hooded and striped flower blooms in spring on separate stalk at height of leaves 
  • 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 
  • Flower produces a mace-like cluster of red or scarlet berries in the fall 

Habitat:

  • Thrives in moist, shady and seasonally wet locations 
  • Found in forests, woodlands, bogs and swamps 

Range:

  • Found across the Chesapeake Bay watershed 
  • Native to Canada and the eastern and midwestern United States 

Predators:

  • Birds and mammals feed on berries

Reproduction and Life Cycle:

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

Other Facts:

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

Sources and Additional Information:




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