By: C. Colston Burrell
A jack in the pulpit flower in the wild.
Jack-in-the-pulpit is a distinctive flower easily grown in the shade. I love Photo and Apple. / Getty Images

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").

Description of jack-in-the-pulpit: 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 clublike spadix. After the flower fades, a cluster of bright red berries appears and lasts for much of the summer. The leaves fade away in midsummer if the plant is not watered regularly but grow back in spring from an underground tuber. Ease of care of jack-in-the-pulpit: Easy.


Growing jack-in-the-pulpit: This plant naturally grows on rich, moist forest floors and so is perfectly suited to shady gardens. Add plenty of compost or peat moss at planting time.

Propagating jack-in-the-pulpit: By offsets or seed sown 1/2 inch deep. Seed sown in fall germinates the following spring.

Uses for jack-in-the-pulpit: Plant near a path or the front of the garden where its surprising flowers will be noticed. Jack-in-the-pulpit is an ideal choice for shady spots in the wild flower garden.

Related species of jack-in-the-pulpit: Green Dragon (Arisaema dracontium), a native of North America, has a green flower like that of its cousin but with a long, pointed hiplike spadix and a small spathe. Its deeply divided leaves and red berries make it attractive for long periods.

Scientific name of jack-in-the-pulpit: Arisaema triphyllum


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