Jack in the Pulpit is Arisaema triphyllum for your shade garden

Jack in the Pulpit looks way too exotic to be cold hardy in USDA zones 4 to 9 but it is!

Give it dappled shade, moist, peat-moss enhanced soil and a place it can grow undisturbed.

Native to the Midwest and East regions of North America they grow to 1-3 feet tall and 1 foot wide, with 2-large, green leaves comprised of 2 leaflets each.

A member of the Araceae, Arum, plant family, my little guy is planted in the same area with other Arums though Jack is one-of-a-kind in our garden so far. From what I've read, we would have to plant several to get male/female sex-change, pollination, seedheads, etc.

Its many other names includ Indian Turnip, Indian Almond, Pepper Turnip, Marsh Pepper, Bog Onion, Priest's Pentle, Wood Pulpit, Little Pulpit, Cuckoo Flower, Starchwort, Memory Root, Devil's Ear, Dragonroot, and Brown Dragon according to Phagat's Garden.

Wildwood Web says that the cylindar that we think of as the flower is not the flower
"Jack-in the-pulpits are surely one of the oddest flowering plants in Wildwood. What most people think of as the flower is really an inflorescence, a cluster of flowers. However, the actual flowers in the cluster are hidden away inside the "flower" that we admire. Few people have actually seen the flowers. Instead we see a spongy, cylindrical structure, the "Jack," inside a leaf-like structure that is rolled into a deep cup with an overhanging roof, the "pulpit." The whole ensemble does somewhat resemble a diminutive minister in an old-fashioned high-church pulpit. Botanists call the minister a spadix, while his pulpit is the spathe. In the case of Jack-in-the-pulpits, neither of these is a flower, or part of a flower. Instead, the true flowers are tiny and located at the very base of the spadix inside the spathe."
Wildflowers of the Southeastern US says:
"Historical Lore: Calcium oxalate crystals present in the entire plant will cause a powerful burning sensation if eaten raw. Properly drying or cooking removes this effect and the Native Americans used the root as a vegetable. There is one account stating that the Meskwaki Indians would put finely chopped root into meat they would leave for their enemies to find, principally the Sioux. The meat was flavorful and would be consumed, but, in a few hours these enemies would be in so much pain they would die! It is reported that they also used it diagnostically by dropping a seed in a cup of water and if the seed went around four times clockwise the patient would recover and if less the patient would die.  Medical Uses: Despite its possible irritating effects there are several accounts of Native Americans using a preparation of the root on sore eyes. It was also used for cold symptoms and as a tonic. Externally it has been used for various skin infections and against pain and swelling.
WarningNo part of the fresh plant should be taken internally. "

So a warning from the Veterinary Medicine Library - don't let your cattle, goats, sheep or swine graze on these poisonous but uniquely beautiful plants, berries, roots.

The red seedheads resemble that other Arum we love, Lords and Ladies.

Plants! Endlessly interesting and mysterious. What a wonderful hobby.


Unknown said…
Good plant choice. I'd love to see arum used more residential landscapes. It's especially striking in fruit. Thanks for the info!

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