Arisaema triphyllum

Kingdom: Plant

Phylum: Angiosperm/Flowering Plant

Class: Monocot

Order: Alismatales

Family: Araceae / Arum family

Genus: Arisaema

Species: triphyllum

Where in the OLL?

  • A shade loving plant that is hidden underneath the canopy of other flowers, shrubs, and trees in the Botanical Garden. Has been planted in the gardens and is also naturally occurring in the GCC forest.
  • The Botanical Gardens at GCC consists of native plants planted near a wetland environment which is a perfect habitat.

Plant growth form

Jack-in-the-pulpit leaf

Photo by Missouri Botanical Gardens

  • Herbaceous
  • Two large green, compound, long-petiole leaves (1-1.5′ long), divided into three leaflets each, emanate upward from a single stalk and provide umbrella-like shade to the flower.
  • Basal leaf, grows from lowest part of stem, only at the base of the plant. The leaf blade is elliptic (widest near the middle and tapering at both ends), it is also oblanceolate (lance-shaped, but with the widest point above the middle of the leaf blade). The leaf blade is ovate (widest below the middle and broadly tapering at both ends). Leaf blade length up to 11.9in.

Flowers, fruits & pollinators

  • It is monoecious meaning different flower types occur separately but on the same plant.
  • The flower is an inflorescence type. The inflorescence is a spike which is a long unbranched stem with flowers along it that lack stalks.
  • The classic phrase for this plant is (and others like it) is ‘spathe and spadix.’
  • Flowering plants initially produce only pollen-producing (‘male’) flowers, but become monoecious as they age with male flowers on upper part of spadix and ovule-producing (‘female’) flowers on lower part.
  • Flower structure consists of the spadix (Jack) which is an erect spike containing numerous, tiny, green to purple, maroon striped, flowers and the sheath-like spathe (pulpit) which encases the lower part of the spadix and then opens to form a hood extending over the top of the spadix. The outside of the spathe is usually green or purple and the inside is usually striped purple and greenish white, though considerable color variations exist.
  • The ovary is above the point of petal and/or sepal attachment
  • Most plants occur in a colony and will vanish by mid-summer (become dormant), but the mature, monoecious flowering plant will produce a cluster of red berries in mid-to-late summer which becomes visible as the spathe withers.
  • Flowers March- June depending on location.

Ideal location, conditions & cultural needs

Range map of the Jack-in-The-Pulpit

Photo by USDA Plants Database

  •  Grows well in part shade to full shade.
  • Found in rich, moist, deciduous woods, floodplains, bogs, fens, forests, marshes, shores of rivers or lakes, swamps, wetland margins (edges of wetlands).

Planning & maintenance

  • A long lived perennial (25+ years), it will spread and colonize over time, mostly from the corms.

Cultivars & propagation

  • Seeds should be cleaned as soon as possible after collection because they lose viability if allowed to dry out.
  • Berries can be smashed with a large spoon or by hand, and the seeds separated by rinsing them in a strainer, picking out large debris.
  • Following cleaning, seeds should be immediately placed into cold moist stratification for 60 to 90 days in vermiculite, inside a ziplock bag in the refrigerator, for example.
  • Alternatively, ripe berries can be tossed directly on to the soil if the site is appropriate with high rates of germination resulting the following spring. The cold stratification happens naturally.

Pests & pathogens

  • Attractive to slugs which can be managed with diatomaceous earth.
  • Deer eat the roots, while wood thrush, turkeys, and other wild birds eat the berries.

Landscape & ecosystem

  • The unusual flowers, attractive 3-parted leaves, and showy red fruits make this species an attractive addition to a shady plant gardens.

Human uses

  • Considered dangerous and should not be eaten raw.
  • This plant should not be used for any medical treatment except under the direction of a physician. When prepared properly, the toxic effects of the plant may be removed and it can be used to treat croup, whooping cough, asthma, other respiratory illnesses, external sores, and to reduce inflammation and ease swollen joints. It is not used today in modern medicine.
  • The corm of the plant was used by Native Americans as a source of food.


Plant catalogued by Miranda Avery
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