Jack-in-the-pulpit is a fairly common woodland plant with an uncommon name. Jack-in-the pulpit was given its common name by its flower, which resembles a church pulpit. This plant is also known as “Indian turnip,” from its underground corm, a bulb-like structure, which is actually part of the stem. Jack-in-the-pulpit prefers shady, moist sites, and it does not tolerate influx of invasive species very well. This plant tends to thrive in forests that have mostly native vegetation. A perennial that appears in late spring and flowers soon there afterward, boasts striped flowers containing various shades of green and purple. The leaves arise in groups of three along a long stem. In the fall, bright red seeds form on this plant, making it very distinct in a forest setting or landscape. Jack-in-the-pulpit produces oxalate, an acidic chemical, which can be strong enough to cause skin irritation and blisters in certain individuals. There are certain edible parts of this plant, but preparation is critical to remove the oxalate acid. Jack-in-the-pulpit grows easily from seeds, and has been used for ornamental purposes.

Article by FCFCDB

Page header photo credit: marylandbiodiversity.com - Richard Orr

Nature note for 4/16/22