Jack-in-the-Pulpit

Arisaema triphyllum

Quick Facts

  • Species

    Native

  • Size

    1 to 3 feet tall

  • Habitat

    Thrives in moist, shady and seasonally wet locations; can be found in forests, woodlands, bogs and swamps

  • Range

    Native to Canada and the eastern and midwestern United States; found across the Chesapeake Bay watershed. 

  • Status

    Stable

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. It has a  large, hooded and striped flower that blooms in spring. The flower in on a separate stalk, at the height of the leaves.

The flower can be green, greenish-white or purple. It has a pouch-shaped spathe ("pulpit") and fingerlike central spadix ("jack"), which give the plant its common name. Its flower produces a cluster of red or scarlet berries in the fall. 

Reproduction and Life Cycle

An underground corm, or swollen section of the stem, is 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 makes sure pollination occurs. The flower produces a cluster of red or scarlet berries in fall before dying back in winter. Home growers can propagate the plant by root division or seed. 

Did You Know?

  • The berries, foliage and roots are poisonous to humans and other animals, although the roots can be eaten if cooked or dried for at least six months. 
  • Birds and mammals feed on the plant's berries.

Sources and Additional Information

Quick Facts

  • Species

    Native

  • Size

    1 to 3 feet tall

  • Habitat

    Thrives in moist, shady and seasonally wet locations; can be found in forests, woodlands, bogs and swamps

  • Range

    Native to Canada and the eastern and midwestern United States; found across the Chesapeake Bay watershed. 

  • Status

    Stable