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Jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum)




















Jack in the pulpit


Alocasia atrorubens (Aiton) Raf.
Alocasia lobata Raf.
Alocasia triphylla (L.) Raf.
Arisaema acuminatum Small
Arisaema atrorubens (Aiton) Blume
Arisaema atrorubens forma pallascens (Sims) Raymond
Arisaema atrorubens forma pusillum (Peck) Fernald
Arisaema atrorubens forma viride (Engl.) Fernald
Arisaema atrorubens forma zebrinum (Sims) Fernald
Arisaema atrorubens var. viride Engl.
Arisaema atrorubens var. zebrinum (Sims) Raymond
Arisaema brasilianum Blume
Arisaema deflexum Nieuwl. & K.Just
Arisaema hastatum Blume
Arisaema pusillum Nash
Arisaema pusillum forma pallidum Eames
Arisaema quinatum var. obtusoquinatum Alph. Wood
Arisaema stewardsonii Britton
Arisaema triphyllum forma pusillum (Peck) Fernald
Arisaema triphyllum forma stewardsonii (Britton) Engl.
Arisaema triphyllum forma viride (Engl.) Farw.
Arisaema triphyllum forma zebrinum (Sims) F.Seym.
Arisaema triphyllum lusus bispadiceum Engl.
Arisaema triphyllum lusus bispathaceum Engl.
Arisaema triphyllum lusus trispadiceum Engl.
Arisaema triphyllum subsp. pusillum (Peck) Huttl.
Arisaema triphyllum subsp. stewardsonii (Britton) Huttl.
Arisaema triphyllum var. acuminatum (Small) Engl.
Arisaema triphyllum var. montanum Fernald
Arisaema triphyllum var. pusillum Peck
Arisaema triphyllum var. stewardsonii (Britton) Stevens
Arisaema triphyllum var. typicum Engl.
Arisaema triphyllum var. viride (Engl.) Engl.
Arisaema zebrinum G. Nicholson
Arum atrorubens Aiton
Arum triphyllum L.
Arum triphyllum var. atropurpureum Michx.
Arum triphyllum var. atrorubens (Aiton) Dewey ex Alph.Wood
Arum triphyllum var. pallescens Sims
Arum triphyllum var. virens Michx.
Arum triphyllum var. viride Sims
Arum triphyllum var. zebrinum Sims
Arum vittatum Salisb.


CONFIRMATION STATUS: Pending confirmation.


TAXONOMY: The currently accepted scientific name of Jack-in-the-
pulpit is Arisaema triphyllum L. Although variations in morphological
forms may be recognizable in the field, distinguishing these differences
in herbarium specimens is often difficult, and much overlap occurs in
expression of the characteristics supposedly defining infraspecific taxa.
Numerous intermediate forms exist. Given these problems and the sym-

patric ranges of the "subspecies" recognized by previous workers,

Arisaema triphyllum is treated here as one highly variable species. In

addition to the above variability within the Arisaema triphyllum com-

plex, hybrid populations between Arisaema triphyllum and Arisema

dracontium have been reported occurring naturally. These plants do not

produce mature fruits but do reproduce vegetatively.


The closest relative of this species is Arisaema dracontium (green dragon).
green dragon also occurs in moist to mesic woodlands, but it is less com-

mon. Green dragon has been recorded as occurring in Facquier County.

Each flower of green dragon has a long narrow spadix that protrudes

above the spathe; the latter is narrowly cylindrical. The foliage of these

two species differs as well: jack-in-the-pulpit has compound leaves with

3 leaflets, while green dragon has compound leaves with 5-13 leaflets.

The leaflets of the latter are more narrow than those of jack-in-the-pulpit.

The rare subspecies of jack-in-the-pulpit, Arisaema triphyllum pusillum,

a dwarf version of the typical subspecies, has not been recorded as occur-

ring in Facquier County.


NATIVE STATUS: Native, United States and Canada.




Habit: This native perennial plant is about 1-2' tall.


Leaves: It consists of 1-2 trifoliate leaves with long petioles and a stout

peduncle (or stalk) with a single flower at its apex. Both the petioles and

the peduncle develop directly from the corm; the peduncle is wrapped by

a sheath at its base and it is shorter than the petioles. They both have a

smooth hairless surface, and their color varies from light green to reddish

green or brownish green. The light green to dark green leaflets are up to

7" long and 3" across; they are ovate or broadly rhombic, pinnately veined, glabrous, and smooth along the margins. The terminal leaflet is larger than

the lateral leaflets.


Flowers: Jack-in-the-pulpit is usually monoecious, but some plants are

unisexual and they have the capability to change their gender. The whitish

green to reddish green flower is about 3½" long and 2" across, consisting

of a spadix and spathe. The light green spadix is cylindrical in shape; the

male flowers are located above the female flowers on the lower half of the

spadix, where they are hidden from view by the surrounding spathe. These

flowers are tiny in size and they lack corollas and calyxes. The male flow-

ers have several stamens, while the female flowers have a single pistil.

The spathe loosely surrounds the spadix, exposing only its upper portion

(the "Jack" of the flower). The upper part of the spathe develops behind

the spadix and then curves over it, providing a protective hood (the "pul-

pit" of the flower). This spathe varies from light green to reddish green in

color; its tubular base is slightly furrowed and often has white or burgundy



Fruit/Seeds: If cross-pollination occurs, each fertilized flower will devel-

op a fleshy red fruit about ¼" across; this fruit contains one or more seeds. Collectively, these fruits can form an ovoid mass up to 2" long.


Roots: The root system consists of a corm up to 1½" across with second-

ary roots.


REGENERATION PROCESS: The flowers are pollinated by fungus
gnats (Sciaridae & Mycetophilidae) and the larvae of parasitic thrips. In
particular, the oligolectic thrip Heterothrips arisaemae is attracted to


HABITAT TYPES: 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.


SITE CHARACTERISTICS: Jack-in-the-pulpit prefers dappled sun-

light to light shade during the spring, when vegetative growth and flow-

ering occurs; medium shade is tolerated later in the year. The soil should

be moist to mesic and contain an abundance of organic material from de-

caying leaves and other material. It is easier to start plants from corms,

rather than seeds.


SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT: The blooming period occurs from mid-
to late-spring and lasts about 2 weeks, although the spadix and spathe re-

main attractive for a longer period of time.


GENERAL DISTRIBUTION: Within its natural habitat, Jack-in-the-
pulpit is found throughout the eastern United States and Canada. From

southern Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec, it can found south to Florida,

west to Texas, and north to Wiconsis and Minnesota.




IMPORTANCE AND USES: The foliage and corms (especially the
latter) contain crystals of calcium oxalate, which can cause a burning
sensation in the mouth and irritation of the gastrointestinal tract. As a
result, mammalian herbivores rarely eat this plant. However, some
upland gamebirds feed on the foliage occasionally, including Mele-

agris gallopavo (wild turkey). The red berries are eaten by some

woodland birds, including Hylocichla mustelina (wood thrush) and

the wild turkey.



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