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