Jack in the Pulpit (Arisaema Triphyllum) is an exotic looking perennial plant native to moist woodlands in eastern North America, including Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes. The Jack in the name refers to the central spadix, while the Pulpit refers to the pouch-shaped spathe (a sheath-like leaf) with an outer hood that surrounds the spadix. It is named so because the plant looks like a preacher standing in a pulpit (a raised platform for giving speeches).
The plant grows to be about 8 inches to 2 feet in height. It is grown from a corm (a bulbous tuber) and produces threes leaves and calla lily-like flowers. There are male and female plants. Male plants will have one leaf divided into 3 leaflets, while females have 2 leaves of three leaflets. The flowers, which bloom in early spring, will grow to be about 8cm (3 inches) long and are typically green-yellow or green with purple or brown stripes.
Jack the Pulpit can sometimes be confused with poison ivy, which also has three leaves, especially when the flowers haven’t emerged yet. After the flower fades in mid-summer, the plant will produces clusters of bright red berries, containing 1-5 seeds.
Jack in the pulpit is easy to grow and is an ideal choice for shade gardens. Ideal companions include: trillium, phlox, toad lily and hosta. Plant in the front of the garden for the most visual impact. Plant in rich, moist soil with plenty of compost or peat moss.
Climate zones: 4-9
Fun Flower Facts about Jack in the Pulpit:
- Jack in the Pulpit is poisonous when raw; consumption of the raw plant will result in an intense burning sensation in the mouth. In some cases, it can even cause the throat to swell up and limit breathing.
- It is toxic to dogs, cats and horses
- If the plant is plant is properly cooked, it can be eaten as a vegetable.
- Native Americans used the root as a treatment for sore eyes, rheumatism, bronchitis and snake bites.
- Interestingly, Jack in the Pulpit can change sexes within its lifetime. All plants start off as male, pollen bearing flowers. Over time and with enough nutrients, the plant becomes female and produce berries! And if conditions change and nutrients are lacking, the plant can change back to male!
- Flower of the Week Jack in the Pulpit (Arisaema Triphyllum) (nativewildflowers.wordpress.com)
- Jack in Pulpit Plant Care Guide (auntiedogmasgardenspot.wordpress.com)