Monday, April 14, 2008
Jack in the Pulpit
We're lucky enough to have more than one type of Jack in the Pulpit growing wild on our property. This is the most common, Arisaema triphyllum spp triphyllum. (Triphyllum = three leaves.)
Technically speaking, the "jack" is the spadix, and the "pulpit" is the spathe.
One of these days I'm going to memorize plant anatomy so I don't have to look it up all the time. I always feel dumb when I ask a question, and the answer involves so many technical terms that I feel like Gilligan, with all the Professor's lofty knowledge floating away right over my head.
At that point I never can decide the best course of action:
1) Nod and act like I understand,
2) Look confused and hope the expert will realize that I don't understand,
3) Admit outright that I don't understand, or
4) Look around frantically for another interesting flower, so I can shout "Ooh pretty!" and run away just as soon as the expert's lips quit moving.
Usually I opt for something between #1 and #2. "Hmm..." combined with a thoughtful look -- neither too confused nor too satisfied. A look that should convey, "Although I'm not a total idiot, I didn't quite catch your meaning, because obviously I'm not as smart as you are."
Here's Arisaema triphyllum ssp quinatum. I could only find one that was in bloom already.
Up close and personal.
There is another type here, but I couldn't find it blooming yet, so I'll write a "part 2" later.
Jacks are easy to confuse with Trilliums sometimes, especially before they bloom. The lighter colored leaves in the lower portion of the photo are Jacks:
In a garden I toured recently, the owner showed us what she called a "Japanese Jack in the Pulpit":
See how long the spadix is? Note my friend's fingers at the top of the picture below. She's holding the tip of the spadix! And that's the spathe way down on the ground, underneath the leaves (that look more like our Green Dragon's leaves).
I believe this variety is either Arisaema urashima or Arisaema thunbergii. (They're similar.)
Wildwood Park's look at Jacks.
Primrose Path's page on American Jack varieties.
Paghat's Jack in the Pulpits and Cobra Lilies.
International Aroid Society.