Search My Garden Blog with Google Custom Search


Jack in the Pulpit Arisaema triphyllum

This past winter I was shopping for garden seeds at Lowe's when I spotted a couple of packages of Jack-in the Pulpit, Arisaema triphyllum, corms for 99 cents. Having wanted these for a long time I purchased a couple and decided to try to grow them in my garden. In the spring I potted up the Jack-in-the-Pulpit corms and pretty much forgot about them because they didn't sprout. I was just about to toss the pots when I we had some severe weather in Chicago and I noticed the heavy rains were bringing the Jack-in-the-Pulpit corms in one of the pots out of dormancy

Jack-in-the-Pulpit flower picture

The package said that they might not bloom the first year, but as you can see from the pictures here my Jack-in-the-Pulpit is indeed blooming. Now, the bloom is comprised of a spadix, the brown spike in the center and a spathe, the leaf-like structure that surrounds it.

Jack in the Pulpit plant picture

Jack-in-the-Pulpit grows between 8 inches and 2 feet tall. My entire Jack-in-the-Pulpit plant pictured in this post is probably about 9 inches tall including the 3 parted leaves.

Jack in the Pulpit Flower hood, spadex and spathe

I lifted up the hood of the spathe ("the pulpit") to give you a look at the underside of the hood, you can also see the tip of the spadex ("Jack") better here. There is actually a cluster of flowers, male and female, near the bottom of the spadex, that are pollinated by flies which are attracted by the smell of the plant. I got really close to the inflorescence to see if it would smell as bad as my Voodoo Lily, but didn't notice any bad scent emanating from the spadex. Perhaps my Jack-in-the-Pulpit is too young, I've read that when they're young they produce mostly male flowers but as they age they produce more female flowers. Looking at the color pattern of the spathe and taking the pollinators of the flowers into consideration; I don't expect the smell to be anything but nasty.

Jack in the Pulpit plant

Backside of the Jack-in-the-Pulpit flower.

Jack in the Pulpit plant picture side view

Side view of the the spathe and spadex of Jack-in-the-Pulpit.

I'm going to make room for my plant in the shady side of the garden and will have to heavily amend my dry clay soil because Jack-in-the-Pulpit is native to moist woodlands. Besides Jack-in-the Pulpit, Arisaema triphyllum is also commonly known as Bog onion, Brown dragon and Indian turnip among other names. I don't who named this plant "Jack-in-the-Pulpit" or why they saw a preacher in a pulpit while looking at the bloom. To me, it looks more like a cobra ready to strike. Considering that Jack-in-the-Pulpit is poisonous I think the allusion to a cobra is more apt than one to a  preacher.


  1. In my old old house, I had a woodland garden filled with Jack In the Pulpits. It was my son's favorite. He was always looking for Jack.


  2. I love Jacks! I've never noticed a scent (even tho I get up close & personal), but then mine have never had berries, either. It's true they have mostly male flowers as they're younger and it takes a while to produce the female flowers--I heard it can take 9 years!--and the female flowers do have to be pollinated from a different male plant... maybe flies in my area are too damn lazy. I can see I'm going to have to help this along next spring, even without a beard! ;-)

  3. So, I have actually eaten jack in the pulpit. When I was twelve, I read a (fiction) book about some wilderness boy surviving on them. They were growing in our backyard, so I collected the roots, dried them, cooked them and then ate them. It was a painful experience -- an unbelievable stinging sensation all the way down the throat. I wrote an indignant letter to the author of the book letting her know that there was no way the wilderness boy would have survived one meal eating jack in the pulpit.

  4. I love Jack & the Pulpit. I added one to my garden this year and had a beautiful bloom. I hope it comes back and repeats the performance next year!

  5. Oh snap! Look what I found on my oldest Jack! And the one Joey just gave me has more exposed berries. W00t!

  6. This is surely gorgeous! I love the inside dark brown with the outside striped! Sexy!!!!!

  7. Nice! What a pretty bloom!

  8. What kind of plant is that? Is that a carnivorous kind of plant? Like those plant who eats flies and other insects. It is cute because it's small.

  9. Beautiful! And a great bargain! Wish I had a Lowe's nearby...

  10. Gorgeous! I love them. My oldest daughter has Jacks in her woods, and a previous owner of the house transplanted some into the foundation landscape. We were both excited to see them earlier this spring.

  11. Hi Mr. BTh! Having it sprout And Bloom is definitely worth a "happy dance!"

    I finally posted about my Grow Project - left a note at the Grow site. :-)

  12. @Gatsby Gardens

    That sounds awesome. I just have the one but wish I had a lot more.


    You're hilarious!


    Wow, I LOLed only because you survived and nothing happened, but that is hilarious that you wrote the author a letter.


    I too hope your Jack in the Pulpit comes back.


    My thoughts exactly! I wonder if someone can produce a shirt or article of clothing with these colors and pattern. I'd wear it.


    Glad you like it.

    @Bed frame,

    It does look a bit like a carnivorous plant, doesn't it? But it isn't carnivorous.


    If I see them again next year I'll make sure to buy extras and offer them through the blog.


    Nice! Were they old enough to form berries?

    @Shady Gardener,

    Thanks, I'll chec it out.



Feel free to leave a comment. You can always use the search box for my blog or the search "Google For Gardeners" if you're looking for gardening information. If you're looking for seed saving information check out "Seed Snatcher"search engine.

Do not have a blog yourself? Comment using the "anonymous" feature. If you have a Twitter or FB account feel free to use the "Name URL" feature so other people can find you.

Thanks for visiting.