Jack-in-the-pulpit – Arisaema triphyllum

arisaema thiphyllum_13JACK-IN-THE-PULPIT (Arisaema triphyllum)    belongs to the  Arum family

The Jack-in-the-pulpit flower charms in the spring and then the plant is rather lost among all the other larger summer offerings.  Then in the fall it becomes more conspicuous with its bright red seed cluster.  Easy to miss this time of the year.Ginseng hunters sometimes run excitedly towards  red berries only to find that it is a Jack-in-the-pulpit.  Seen above in the spring, in this plant the spathe forms the “pulpit” for the spadix, or “Jack”.  Appearing in the spring, by fall the spathe withers and falls exposing the spadix which has become a tangle of colorful, red berries.

The plant’s  Latin “triphyllum” of course alerts us to look for three leaves, but here in Nantahala you are as likely to find another interesting variety with not three but five leaves.  Because of all the rain we have been having, the Jack-in-the-pulpits are doing very well indeed and the five leaved plant ( Arisaema triphyllum, ssp quinatum) are very much in evidence with their little green jacks hiding under their wide leaves. The following photograph of the plant was taken in the spring when it was in flower.

Arisaema triphyllum ssp quinatum_1

Another name for this plant is “Indian Turnip” because American Indians ate the root as you would a turnip.  It figured in both folk and Indian medicine as a cure for a variety of ailments.  According to the Doctrine of Signatures it was considered good for erectile problems as the “Jack” resembles a phallus.

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   The “Jack” in summer

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The “Jack”as it is beginning to change colors

arisaema thiphyllum_03

The “Jack” in the fall – photographed in October

For a PDF page, click here: jack-in-th-pulpit

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