Jack in the Pulpit
Description & Overview
Single paired 8-12″ long, 3-lobed leaves frame the unusual green and purple hooded flowers. A superb woodland plant that becomes most visible in early autumn when its striking clusters of orange-red berries appear on leafless stalks brightening up shaded recesses.
Naturalizing shady spaces, native understory plant, post-buckthorn removal
Fruit is of value to birds and mammals.
Leave up overwinter to protect roots. Mulch and water as necessary once established, little care required otherwise.
The “Jack” of Jack in the Pulpit is a spike-like flower structure called a spadix. The spadix is made up of tiny male and female flowers that will produce the orange berries in fall. The “Pulpit” is a large, single petal-like structure called a spathe that wraps itself around Jack like a hood or a preacher’s pulpit. Renowned American artist and Wisconsin native, Georgia O’Keefe was inspired by Arisaema and created a series of oil paintings in the 1930’s that closely examined its unusual beauty.
Though the name seems pleasant enough, all parts of Jack in the Pulpit are poisonous, especially the underground rooting structures called corms. To eat a corm of Jack in the Pulpit creates an intense burning sensation in the month, hence the origin of another common name of Arisaema– “Brown Dragon”. The plant contain crystals of calcium oxalate that, when mixed with saliva, become fiery daggers. If ingested, the crystals can cause upset stomach, damage to the liver and kidneys, even death.
Pair with other Jack in the Pulpit to produce fruit because individual plants cannot self-pollinate.