Jack-in-the-Pulpit, Arisaema triphyllum

Jack-in-the-Pulpit

Arisaema triphyllum

Benefits:
Sun Shade:
Bloom Time: Spring
Zones: 4, 5
Soil Conditions: Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil Moisture: Normal, Moist, Wet
Color: Greem
Fragrance: Yes
Height: 1 to 2 feet
Spacing: 6 inches to 1 foot


Description

Jack- in-the-Pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum) is a spring woodland wildflower usually growing 1- 2 feet tall. Flower structure consists of the spadix (Jack) which is an erect spike containing numerous, tiny, green to purple flowers and the sheath-like spathe (pulpit) which encases the lower part of the spadix and then opens to form a hood extending over the top of the spadix. The outside of the spathe is usually green or purple and the inside is usually striped purple and greenish white, though considerable color variations exist. Two large green, compound, long-petioled leaves (1-1.5 feet long), divided into three leaflets each, emanate upward from a single stalk and provide umbrella-like shade to the flower. The fleshy stalk and leaves lend an almost tropical aura to the plant.

Flowering plants initially produce only male flowers, but become hermaphroditic as they further age (male flowers on upper part of spadix and female on lower part). Most plants in a colony will vanish by mid-summer (become dormant), Roots contain calcium oxalate and are poisonous.

The blooming period occurs from mid- to late-spring and lasts about 2 weeks, although the spadix and spathe remain attractive for a longer period of time. If cross-pollination occurs, each fertilized flower will develop a fleshy red fruit about ¼-inch across. This fruit contains one or more seeds. Collectively, these fruits can form an ovoid mass up to 2 inches long. The root system consists of a corm up to 1½ inches across with secondary roots.

Habitats include mesic deciduous woodlands and shady hillside seeps. This species typically occurs in original woodlands that have never been subjected to the plow or bulldozers.

Best grown in fertile, medium to wet soil in part shade to full shade. Needs constantly moist soil rich in organic matter. Does poorly in heavy clay soils. May be grown from seed, but takes five years for plant to flower.

Plant Notes and Herbal Uses
  It is easier to start plants from corms, rather than seeds.
  May be grown from seed, but takes five years for plant to flower.
  The soil should be moist to mesic and contain an abundance of organic material.
  The foliage and corms contain crystals of calcium oxalate which can cause a burning sensation in the mouth and irritation of the gastrointestinal tract.
Further Information

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