Jack-in-the-pulpit is an intriguing wildflower native to eastern and midwestern North America, but is easily grown in shade gardens elsewhere. It gets its common name from its odd flower: a pouch-shaped spathe ("pulpit") with an overhanging hood that surrounds a fingerlike central spadix ("jack"). Here, I have lifted the hood to stand up and reveal eye-catching markings and the spadix. Normally, the hood lays down over the spadix.
Jack-in-the-pulpit produces one to two 3-lobed leaves 12 to 18 inches high. The leaves appear in early spring as does the flower, which is composed of a green-and-purple striped spathe bent over at its tip to partly hide the green club-like spadix. After the flower fades, a cluster of bright red berries appears and lasts for much of the summer. The leaves fade away in mid-summer if the plant is not watered regularly but grow back in spring from an underground tuber.
Photo captured May 16, 2016.
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