Home » Flowers and Grasses » Jack-in-the-Pulpit


Scientific name: Arisaema triphyllum

This unusual native woodland plant earned its common name as the flower was thought to resemble a pastor at a pulpit. At first glance, to modern eyes, its flower resembles that of a calla lilly. Blooming in spring, and growing just 1-2 feet tall, it is a distinctive species that you might come upon in the right habitat.

Jack-in-the-pulpit contains a poisonous substance called calcium oxalate crystals. Berries, foliage and roots of this plant can cause painful irritation if eaten. The roots can cause blisters on skin simply by  contact.






Two large dull green deeply veined leaves are divided into three leaflets each. In early spring, before this plant flowers, it can be mistaken for poison ivy.  Male plants have one leaf  while females plants have two.


The shape of this flower is unlike any other native you might see in nature locally. The pulpit (called the spathe) is shaped like a sheath that also creates a hood over the ‘Jack” (called a spadix) The inside of the flower (spadix) is usually striped purple and green/white. The surrounding spathe is either green or purple.


Blooming Season

April till June.


This plant is found in fertile moist soils in woodlands, along rivers or wetlands.

Ecosystem Connections

The mature plant will produce a cluster of red berries in mid to late summer. Wild turkey and some mammals will eat this berry,

Human Connections

Native Americans ground the corm (underground root) into a flour giving it the common name of Indian turnip. It is not poisonous if it is cooked.

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