Arisaema triphyllum (Jack-in-the-Pulpit)

Plant Info
Also known as: Indian Turnip
Genus:Arisaema
Family:Araceae (Arum)
Life cycle:perennial
Origin:native
Habitat:shade; moist woods
Bloom season:April - June
Plant height:1 to 3 feet
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

Pick an image for a larger view. See the glossary for icon descriptions.

Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: irregular

[photo of flower] Flower is 3 to 4 inches tall and about 2 inches across, made up of a 2 to 3 inch long club (the “Jack”, or spadix) sitting in a tubular base with a hood (the “pulpit”, or spathe). The spadix is light green to reddish green. The spathe is light green to purplish green and often dotted with white or purplish stripes. Plants are either male or female and the flowering structure looks essentially the same from the outside, with the staminate or pistillate flowers hidden on the lower part of the spadix at the bottom of the tube.

Leaves: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf type: compound Leaf type: palmate

[photo of leaves] Leaves emerge after the flowers, in 1 or 2 sets of compound leaves (male and non-flowering plants have 1, female 2), each leaf with 3 leaflets. Each leaflet is up to 7 inches long and 3 inches across, generally oval with a pointed tip. The middle leaflet is generally larger than the lateral 2. The leaves can tower over the flower and hide it from view.

[photo of leaflet] The vein pattern is distinct with a continuous vein around the edge of the leaf, creating a border effect. The leaf edges are a bit wavy but otherwise smooth. Stems are smooth and green to purple, or mottled green and purple.

Fruit: Fruit type: berry/drupe

[photo of fruit] Fruit is a cluster of green berries each about ¼ inch long that ripen to bright red in late summer.

Notes:

While Jack-in-the-pulpit has both male and female plants, they can change gender from year to year, apparently in response to successful (or failed) reproduction the previous year. Males resprout from an underground corm that can last several seasons, the corm sending off shoots and producing new plants as well. Males tend to be smaller than females and have a small hole at the bottom of the spathe which allows pollinators to escape (with their pollen) more easily. Female plants lack the hole and pollinators are more likely to become trapped, better ensuring successful pollination. Sneaky devils. Jack-in-the-pulpit leaves might be confused for a species of Trillium, but Trillium leaves tend to be proportionately broader and the vein pattern lacks the border effect of Jacks.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken at Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park, Anoka County, and Wild River State Park, Chisago County. Other photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk.

Comments

Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Candace
on: 2009-05-18 22:24:47

Is it illegal to dig and replant jack in the pulpits?

Posted by: K Chayka
on: 2009-05-19 08:08:21

It is illegal to dig up any plant on public lands without a permit. Jack-in-the-pulpit isn't an endangered species, so if it is on your own property, or on private property and you have permission from the owner, it shouldn't be a problem. When in doubt, check with the DNR.

Posted by: Merri - Ottertail co
on: 2009-05-29 19:03:26

Yes,I spotted several jack-in-the-pulpits for the first time today. It was in the woods on my next door neighbor's property where she and I dump our lawn clippings. There is rotten wood nearby. Ottertail County.

A couple of years ago my friend gave me a plant that she called a jack in the pulpit from her forest. I noticed a bloom on it today on the underside of the leaves, but it is a white blossom and is not shaped like a pulpit. It also has 3 leaves, but are more "clover-like"...grows the same and is same height. Are there different varieties of jack-in-the-pulpits? Does anyone know what the white one is? I can't find a picture of it. Guess I'll have to take one!

Posted by: K Chayka
on: 2009-05-29 22:02:32

The white flowered plant may be a trillium. The leaves are similar to jack-in-the-pulpit and they grow in similar habitat at about the same time.

Posted by: Merri - Ottertail co
on: 2009-05-29 23:36:12

YES!! That's it. Thank you so much. I'm so enjoying in. They must be slow to propagate or don't transplant readily. I've had it for 3 years and still is only one little stem that I'm careful not to trample....but the bloom this year was a pleasant surprise. Thanks again.

Posted by: Sharon - Edina
on: 2009-06-05 15:04:05

Jack-in-the-pulpit in Edina, MN. We are very fortunate! Growing near one of our bird baths (in the shade) along with various hostas.

Posted by: njsmommy - Minnetonka
on: 2010-05-11 14:40:28

We moved into our home 4 summers ago and I've been activly removing garlic mustard weed from the woods that back up to our lot. This is the first year I've noticed several jack in the pulpit plants growing in the areas I've been clearing. Guess they were waiting for all that nasty garlic mustard weed to go away before making an appearance!

Posted by: Liz - Savage
on: 2010-05-17 22:30:40

I have been in my home for 20 years and just this weekend found not one but 6 Jack in the pulpit plants. They are in the woods by the Credit River bank. They are so neat! It was a treat to find them, not sure why they showed up this season. It will be fun to watch the transformation to the berries.

Posted by: Tom - Minnetonka
on: 2010-05-18 10:18:15

Like the poster njsmommy, I was clearing out garlic mustard and saw the plant. Very neat, but I had no clue what it was until I spent some time online (evidently my biology minor is not paying off). Our 6th year in our house and first I've noticed it. Mostly shade area, a little sun, miost and dense floor. On the 'wild' side of a very short fence, I'll leave it alone and hope it will blossom into the red berries.

Posted by: Terry - Lakeville
on: 2010-05-21 21:09:21

I recently attended 2 seminars sponsored by, and presented at, the MN Zoo. Buckthorn removal and native MN plants were the 2 subjects presented. I learned clear-cutting buckthorn is a mistake that removes native plants. I'm very happy to report carefully removing buckthorn has yielded wonderful treasure: several Jack-in-the-Pulpits! It took me a long time to find this flower's true name - and this site is where it happened. Thanks!! I hope to discover other native flowers as I continue to remove buckthorn...carefully.

Posted by: Alison - Preston, Fillmore County
on: 2010-07-12 15:00:27

Found jack-in-the-pulpit in the County Farm in Preston in May 2010.

Posted by: jen - minnetonka
on: 2011-05-30 17:51:58

I found several this year while clearing buckthorn and weeds!

Posted by: Jeannie - Shoreview
on: 2011-07-13 09:00:00

I have an abundance of this plant in my yard. All my plant friends can't believe how many I have. A lot of them have tried to take some home to grow but have had little success. When the seed pod falls off I move them to other areas of my yard.

Posted by: Linda - Dakota County
on: 2011-07-15 13:45:28

There is lots of Jack-in-the-Pulpit growing in the woods across the road from our home in South St Paul. I've also found it in Simon's Ravine Park in South St Paul, but you have to get off the main trail in order to see it.

Posted by: Karen - Alexandria, Douglas county, Lake Mary woods
on: 2011-09-11 18:56:40

As I was taking a walk along the gravel road,a bright-red color caught my attention! There, in the ditch near the water, I discovered 3 plants! I have never seen these along the road before {and I grew up at this place}. Took pictures and went on web to find what I thought they might be. Hope they continue to multiply.

Posted by: Jolaine - Waseca County
on: 2012-04-27 10:06:30

I have alot of Jack in the pulpits in my woods. We moved on the property in 2001 and I began clearing the Buckthorn out. As I did this I found the Jacks and if they weren't in a good spot I moved them and they are thriving. Every year there are more and they seem to get larger when they aren't competing with something else.

Posted by: Summer - Minnetonka
on: 2012-05-01 12:24:18

Found this beautiful plant everywhere at the bottom of a maple forest at Lake Ann Park.

Posted by: Paula - Monticello MN
on: 2012-05-02 14:36:18

I found dozens of Jack-in-the-pulpit plants while hiking and taking photographs in Lake Maria state park in Monticello. Some were almost sold green while others had the darker stripes.

Posted by: Janelle - Glendalough State Park
on: 2012-05-04 09:23:00

We found these growing in the woods in Glendalough State Park (in Battle Lake) May 3, 2012

Posted by: Brian - Deerwood
on: 2012-05-05 18:06:47

Found a bunch of them scouting for morels in rural Deerwood. Some were green and some had the dark variegation. May 5, 2012

Posted by: Cqryberg - Lake Elmo
on: 2012-05-14 19:55:27

We have two Jack in the Pulpit plants that have sprouted up spontaneously in our Lake Elmo yard this spring. We've been here over 30 years and this is a first for us. Who is planting them?

Posted by: Loni - Champlin
on: 2012-05-15 15:18:47

We have a Jack-in-the-pulpit near the edge of our property, where it is wet in the spring with water run off from the walking path. This year I have noticed what appear to be several small ones growing near the one large one...so maybe they are spreading. Years ago I noticed one growing among the Buckthorn.(which we are working on removing the nasty stuff).

Posted by: Mary - Rochester & Stillwater
on: 2012-05-16 09:52:24

U have some Jack in the Pulpit in both gardens (Stillwater and Rochester). Each year when I find the red berries I throw them in various other parts of my shade garden, hoping to find more the following year. I don't know how they got there, but I love them!

Posted by: Tom - Maple Grove
on: 2012-05-30 14:55:50

I've have a bed of Jack in the pulpits for about 10 years on the north side of my house. I started with 1 or 2 and now have 75 to 100 plants. Some stand 2 feet tall and the leaves are the size of a football. I take the ripe red seeds in the fall and bury them at varing depths. I don't know what the ideal depth is, but I end up with an increase in the number of plants each year.

Posted by: dan - S MN near Faribault
on: 2012-07-06 14:06:52

I have many in two wooded area on our farm and would like to move them. When, how deep do I dig?

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2012-07-06 17:06:00

Dan, wait until the plants go dormant, then you can move them safely. You just need to dig deep enough to get the tuber, and transplant that. It shouldn't be down too deep. Collect any berries and replant them, too.

Posted by: Cory - North Oaks, MN
on: 2013-05-18 23:45:04

Fun to see these nestled under an oak tree today. Deep rich color.

Posted by: Erik - Ham Lake
on: 2013-06-11 11:33:48

We have these plants all over our maple-wooded area in the back 2/3 of our yard. At first we mistook them for trillium, but were corrected by a family friend. I have successfully transplanted them early in the year when "Jack is in the pulpit", you just have to be careful not to break the tuber/stems during transport as they are quite fragile, but it seems to me the key is getting the whole of the root system when digging up, then plenty of water which seems to be the key to get the plant to go to berries, and then we have just let the berries lie on the ground once they naturally drop later in the summer/early fall, and every year we get more plants in the same spot. Successful transplanting to my mother's yard in Ramsey--but we have found they definitely need to be in shady areas.

Posted by: Tilly - Dassel MN
on: 2013-07-01 12:20:05

Jacks grow wild in my yard, they are almost an invasive species. I have never seen so many!

Posted by: Sue - Eden Prairie
on: 2014-08-30 11:06:34

We have an abundance in our woods. We (my husband) has been working to remove the buckthorn, large and small, by hand all summer. I suspect the J-I-P was there all along, we can just see it now.

Posted by: Sue - Rush City
on: 2014-09-09 01:43:16

Just this week, I noticed this plant with red berries in the wooded portion of our yard. I don't know how it got there. Do birds carry the seeds?

Posted by: Beth - St. Paul
on: 2014-10-03 11:55:52

Does anyone know if there are other plants with similar seed pods? A friend has a plant in the shady side of their yard with a similar seed cluster, but no "flower" and the leaves are somewhat different. We are trying to figure out what it is! Thanks!

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2014-10-03 16:29:33

Beth, if it has fruit then there must be a flower, though it may have bloomed months ago. What is different about the leaves? Why don't you take a picture and post it on the Minnesota Wildflowers Facebook page?

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