Jack in-the-pulpit, Arisaema triphyllum

A Spring woodland wildflower, usually growing 1- 2' tall. The spadix or 'Jack' has a columnar form with a sheath that is called a spathe or 'pulpit'.

Most plants in a colony will vanish by mid-summer (become dormant), but the mature, hermaphroditic flowering plant will produce a cluster of red berries in mid to late summer which becomes visible as the spathe withers.

This unique plant, which is pollinated by flies and gnats, has the ability to change gender. A plant that starts out as male can spontaneously change to female the next year and vice versa. Pollinators crawl beneath the spathe, down the spadix while collecting pollen.

Best grown in fertile, medium to wet soil in part shade to full shade. It needs constantly moist soil rich in organic matter. It does poorly in heavy clay soils. It may be grown from seed, but takes five years for the plant to flower. This plant is generally found in a forest or natural area in moist woods, along creeks, or in the landscape, as a cultivated herbaceous perennial.

Lighter colored version. Photo by K. Mulcahy

Jack patches can be up to 3' tall. This is likely a fairly old patch. Photo by K. Mulcahy

Darker colored version. Photo by K. Mulcahy

Sources:https://plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants, https://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=caam2, other authoritative resources and personal experience.