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Arisaema triphyllum (Jack in the pulpit)
Bransford, W.D. and Dolphia

Arisaema triphyllum

Arisaema triphyllum (L.) Schott

Jack in the pulpit, Indian jack in the pulpit, Jack-in-the-pulpit

Araceae (Arum Family)



USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (N)

One to two large, glossy leaves, divided into three leaflets, rise on their own stems 1-3 ft. The intriguing blossom of this woodland perennial occurs on a separate stalk at the same height as the leaves. It is a large, cylindrical, hooded flower, green in color with brown stripes. Distinctive Jack-in-the-pulpit formation grows beneath large leaves. In late summer, a cluster of bright red berries appears.

Some authorities recognize one species, and others three, based on minor differences in leaves, spathe, and size. Although it causes a strong burning reaction and has a strong peppery taste if eaten raw, the underground tuber can be eaten if dried or cooked, as cooking eliminates these unpleasant properties.


Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb
Root Type: Tap
Leaf: Green
Fruit: Red
Size Class: 1-3 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Green , Purple , Brown
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May , Jun


USA: AL , AR , CT , DC , DE , FL , GA , IA , IL , IN , KS , KY , LA , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , MO , MS , NC , ND , NE , NH , NJ , NY , OH , OK , PA , RI , SC , SD , TN , TX , VA , VT , WI , WV
Canada: MB , NB , NS , ON , PE , QC
Native Distribution: N.S. to Man. & e. ND, s. to FL, e. TX & e. KS
Native Habitat: Forest, Woodland, Swamp, Marsh

Growing Conditions

Water Use: High
Light Requirement: Sun , Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist , Wet
CaCO3 Tolerance: Medium
Soil Description: Humus-rich, moist soils.
Conditions Comments: Jack-in-the-pulpit is an excellent woodsgarden plant, very easy to cultivate and requiring very little care. It thrives under a variety of conditions, but grows most vigorously in moist, shady, seasonally wet locations. A heavy, leafy wintercover should be left in place.


Use Wildlife: Birds and mammals eat the berries of this plant.
Use Food: Native Americans gathered the fleshy taproots (corms) as a vegetable. Roots, only when dried or cooked. Collect roots in early spring. Never eat roots raw as they can be intensely bitter and can cause blisters. Dry for at least six months before eating. Peel, cut into small pieces, roast in the oven for at least one hour and grind into a flour or coffee grinder until quite fine. Add the ground root to bread doughs or muffin batters. Thin slices of the root, dried for 3 months, can be eaten as snacks or with potato-chip dip. (Poisonous Plants of N.C. State)
Warning: Containing needle-like calcium oxalate crystals and perhaps other acrid substances, the berries, foliage, and roots of this plant will cause painful irritation of the mouth and throat if ingested. The roots can cause blisters on skin if touched. Because of needle-like calcium oxalate crystals in the underground tuber, it is peppery to the taste and causes a strong burning reaction if eaten raw. This unpleasant property can be eliminated by cooking. American First Nations gathered the fleshy taproots (corms) as a vegetable. (Niering)
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Interesting Foliage: yes
Attracts: Birds


Description: Propagate by root division or seed. Seeds may be sown outside in late fall, 3/4 deep, or the following spring with or without cold treatment. Seeds should not be allowed to dry out. The seeds may not germinate for up to two years. Cormlets can be separated from the parent corm in fall.
Seed Collection: Collect fruits in fall when the berries are red. Approximate collection date for northern U.S.: Late Aug. & Sep.
Seed Treatment: Remove the small brown seed from the pulp. Stratify stored seeds by placing them in moist sphagmun moss and refrigerating 60 days before planting.
Commercially Avail: yes

Find Seed or Plants

View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.

Mr. Smarty Plants says

Plant identification, green and tube-like
September 18, 2008
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National Wetland Indicator Status

This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.

From the National Suppliers Directory

According to the inventory provided by Associate Suppliers, this plant is available at the following locations:

Edge of the Woods Native Plant Nursery - Orefield, PA
Amandas Garden - Springwater, NY
Enchanter's Garden - Hinton, WV
American Native Nursery - Quakertown, PA
Toadshade Wildflower Farm - Frenchtown, NJ
Prairie Nursery - Westfield, WI

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Pineywoods Native Plant Center - Nacogdoches, TX
Delaware Nature Society - Hockessin, DE
Natural Biodiversity - Johnstown, PA
Mt. Cuba Center - Hockessin, DE


Bibref 928 - 100 easy-to-grow native plants for Canadian gardens (2005) Johnson, L.; A. Leyerle
Bibref 1620 - Gardening with Native Plants of the South (Reprint Edition) (2009) Wasowski, S. with A. Wasowski
Bibref 841 - Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants (2006) Burrell, C. C.
Bibref 1294 - The Midwestern Native Garden: Native Alternatives to Nonnative Flowers and Plants An Illustrated Guide (2011) Adelman, Charlotte and Schwartz, Bernard L.

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Research Literature

Reslit 184 - Effects of Alliaria petiolata (Garlic Mustard; Brassicaceae) on Mycorrhizal Colonization and Community Structure in Three Herbaceous Plants in a Mixed Deciduous Forest (2008) D. J. Burke
Reslit 466 - The response of understory herbaceous plants to nitrogen fertilization in forests of different land-use history (2009) J. M. Fraterrigo, S. M. Pearson and M. G. Turner
Reslit 451 - Use of common forest forbs to measure browsing pressure by white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus Zimmerman) in Virginia, USA (2001) J. D. Fletcher, W. J. McShea, L. A. Shipley and D....
Reslit 556 - Changes in hardwood forest understory plant communities in response to European earthworm invasions (2006) C. M. Hale, L. E. Frelich and P. B. Reich
Reslit 593 - Nonconsumptive effects of a generalist ungulate herbivore drive decline of unpalatable forest herbs (2010) C. D. Heckel, N. A. Bourg, W. J. McShea and S. Kal...
Reslit 658 - Photosynthetic induction dynamics to sunflecks of four deciduous forest understory herbs with different phenologies (2002) J. C. Hull
Reslit 827 - Effects of forest age and disturbance on population persistence in the understory herb, Arisaema triphyllum (Araceae) (2004) M. T. Levine and I. C. Feller
Reslit 1195 - Considering herbivory, reproduction, and gender when monitoring plants: A case study of Jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum [L.] Schott) (2000) S. Ruhren and S. N. Handel
Reslit 1435 - Gender-related differences in gas exchange rates in the gender-switching species Arisaema triphyllum (Araceae) (2001) P. Vitt
Reslit 1467 - A field test of herbaceous plant indicators of deer browsing intensity in mesic hardwood forests of Indiana, USA (2001) C. R. Webster, M. A. Jenkins and G. R. Parker

This information was provided by the Florida WIldflower Foundation.
Search More Titles in Research Literature

Additional resources

USDA: Find Arisaema triphyllum in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Arisaema triphyllum in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Arisaema triphyllum


Record Modified: 2013-09-09
Research By: TWC Staff

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