- Common Name(s):
- Herbs, Native Plants, Perennials, Poisonous Plants, Wildflowers
Arisaema triphyllum, commonly called Jack-in-the-pulpit, is a spring woodland wildflower usually growing 1- 2' 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' 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 the upper part of spadix and female on lower part). Most plants in a colony will vanish by mid-summer (become dormant), but the mature, hermaphroditic flowering plant will produce a cluster of red berries in mid to late summer which becomes visible as the spathe withers. Roots contain calcium oxalate (same chemical as in Diffenbachia or dumb cane) and are poisonous.
Regions: Mountain, Piedmont, Coastal Plains
Seasons of Interest:
Blooms: Spring Nut/Fruit/Seed: Summer
Wildlife Value: The fruits are eaten by songbirds and eastern box turtles. It is moderately resistant to damage from deer.
- 1-2.5 ft.
- Flower Color:
- Green with purple or brown stripes
- USDA Hardiness Zone 4-9
- Jack-in-the-pulpit has one to two leaves, originating at the base of the stem that is divided into three almost equal leaflets.
- Jack-in-the-pulpit has club-like spadix with tiny flowers at the base, with green or purple hood, often marked with whitish stripes. It produces bright red, berry-like fruit.
- Jack-in-the-pulpit is best grown in fertile, medium to wet soil in part shade to full shade. It needs constantly moist soil rich in organic matter. It does poorly in heavy clay soils. It may be grown from seed, but takes five years for the plant to flower.
- Part shade to full shade
- Mountains, Piedmont, Coastal Plains
- USA, NC
- Poison Part:
- All parts
- Poison Delivery Mode:
- Irritation and swelling of lips, tongue, and throat
- Edible parts: roots edible when dried or cooks. Harvest time: only collect roots from areas you know have NOT been treated with pesticides. Collect roots in early spring. Safe food handling: CAUTION, never eat raw. The roots are intensely bitter and can cause blisters. Wash roots thoroughly with warm water. Do not use dish detergent or any type of sanitizer. These products can leave a residue. Dry for at least six months before eating. Peel, cut into small pieces, roast in the oven for at least one hour and grind into a flour or coffee grinder until quite fine. Add the ground root to bread doughs or muffin batters. Thin slices of the root, dried for 3 months, can be eaten as snacks or with potato chip dip.
- Toxic Principle:
- Calcium oxalate crystals
- CAUSES SEVERE PAIN IN THE MOUTH IF EATEN!
- Found in:
- Forest or natural area in moist woods, along creeks; landscape, as cultivated herbaceous perennial
- Life Cycle:
NCCES plant id: 970