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.
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.
Birds and mammals feed on the plant's berries.
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
- Native Plants for Wildlife Habitat and Conservation Landscaping: Chesapeake Bay Watershed – U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
- Arisaema triphyllum (Jack in the pulpit) – L. Schott, The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
- Jack-in-the-Pulpit – C. Colston Burrell, How Stuff Works
- Jack-in-the-Pulpit – William Needham, The Hiker's Notebook