Jack-in-the-pulpit prefers shady, moist rich deciduous woods. Unlike spring ephemerals, Jack-in-the-pulpit offers a beautiful display over most of the summer with its hooded inflorescence and trifoliate leaves followed by the bright-red berries that, bunched together on the flower stalk, resemble a small ear of scarlet corn.
The flowers and leaves sprout from the corm in spring. In appearance A. triphyllum is quite variable. Some have dark reddish-brown stripes and some are mostly green. There’s some disagreement about whether these represent subspecies or just variations within one species. Jack-in-the-pulpit is also a long-lived woodland perennial—20-plus years by some accounts.
Jack-in-the-pulpit can change its sex. According to the University of Arkansas Extension, “young plants or plants growing in very dark areas produce small corms and have limited stored food reserves, so only pollen producing male flowers form. When the corm grows larger, plants stop producing male flowers and convert to female anatomy.”
Story sources: Illinois Wildflowers;wildseedproject.net; indefenseofplants.com; University of Arkansas Extension; U.S. Forest Service; USDA Plant Database. Photos: berries; single stalk: Chris Sorge; multiple berry stalks: Chesapeake Conservation Landing; leaves and flower: Cranbrook Science; flower: bluesbandit.
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