En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?


Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Tuesday - May 06, 2008

From: West Seneca, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Wildflowers
Title: Jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema sp.) blooms
Answered by: Nan Hampton and Joe Marcus


My jack in the pulpit bloomed last year with the back of the spathe showing and the spadix facing away, similar to a child standing in a corner. I read on a site why this happens but now I can't find the site I was on.


Thank you for clarification of your first question but Mr. Smarty Plants is still a little confused. As far as I can remember (it's been a couple of years since I saw Arisaema triphyllum (Jack in the pulpit) in person—they don't grow in Central Texas), the spadix is symmetrical. It isn't possible to determine a front or back to it so it is a bit difficult to visualize it "facing away" from the spathe. Is it possible your jack-in-the-pulpit had a spathe that remained erect like the one on the right in the first picture or like those in the second and third pictures? Is this what you mean by being able to see the back of the spathe? There are a couple of possibilities that come to mind that could cause the spathe not to fold over: 1) a physical injury such as being stepped on by an animal (person, deer, rabbit?) that damaged the emerging spathe, or 2) insect damage to the spathe as it unfolded, or 3) a genetic mutation (remote chance). Discussions with several knowledgeable people didn't yield any other possibilities for what you were describing or its cause. If we've still missed it, we would be happy to try again if you could provide us with a picture. Again, see the Ask Mr. Smarty Plants page for instructions (lower right corner under "Plant Identification") on how to submit photos.

We did learn a lot of interesting things about Jack-in-the-pulpit, however, such as there are male flowers and female flowers. The female flowers have two leaf stalks with them while the males have only one leaf stalk. They can switch sexes, but are either male or female, never both at the same time.


Arisaema triphyllum

Arisaema triphyllum

Arisaema triphyllum

More Wildflowers Questions

Information on what Texas wildflowers are disappearing
August 02, 2011 - I was shocked to find that Texas Bluebells were vanishing. What other Texas wildflowers are vanishing? There is an endangered species list but I want to help before my wildflower neighbors before t...
view the full question and answer

Evergreen privacy hedge and drought-resistant garden
July 21, 2008 - I am looking for a hardy evergreen hedge for privacy in Northern Michigan. I have sandy soil. Also am interested in planting a drought garden with mostly sun in same sandy soil.
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants on books for Southwest New Mexico
November 01, 2004 - Which book would you reccommend for Native plants and flowers for Southwest New Mexico - Silver City area?
view the full question and answer

Propagation of California poppies in Abilene, TX
September 25, 2008 - I live in Abilene,TX and would like to plant some California Poppies from seed. Is it best to sow these in the fall or wait until the spring? Our winters can produce some cold spells of below 20 degre...
view the full question and answer

Texas wildflower guide with every flower listed
November 09, 2012 - Is there a Texas wildflower guide that contains every single flower that grows in the state? I have a few flowers on my land I haven't been able to identify because they aren't in the guide I have. ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center