Jack-in-the-pulpit is a North American native and one of the most easily identifiable woodland plants. Jack-in-the-pulpit produces a single upright stalk with one or two sets of compound leaves, each with three leaflets. The hooded flowers that appear in spring are one of the most recognizable flowers in the spring landscape. The hood, more correctly known as a spathe, forms the “pulpit” and inside is found “Jack”, a long spadix found in the center of the flower. Flowers may be followed by clusters of bright red berries in late summer that provide a food source for birds and small mammals. Each red berry can contain from 1-5 seeds. Plants that don’t bear fruit may go dormant in mid-summer, but they will return the following spring.
Some caution is needed if handling a Jack-in-the-pulpit plant. The berries, leaves and roots contain calcium oxalate crystals that can cause blisters or irritation to skin, and the roots can cause painful irritation of the mouth and throat if ingested. Wear gloves for protection when handling and do not eat any part of a Jack-in-the-pulpit plant.
Beautiful in shady borders and woodland gardens. Can be grown around walnut trees. Especially nice planted near a waterside or rain garden. A very slow spreader, plant in groups for most striking display.