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.)


More information:

Wildwood Park's look at Jacks.

Primrose Path's page on American Jack varieties.

Paghat's Jack in the Pulpits and Cobra Lilies.

Arisaema Info.

International Aroid Society.


Blackswamp_Girl said...

I'm so glad that I'm not the only person who uses the vague nod and thoughtful "Hmm..." to convey my state of confusion!

Those Jacks are very cool. I occasionally see some in the woods around the metroparks, but will have to study them a little more closely next time.

Dave said...

I must admit I never knew there was more than one kind of Jack-in-the-pulpit. Those japanese ones are just wrong.

Rurality said...

Kim, sometimes they realize that I'm having a hard time understanding them... but usually, they don't! The last time it happened, someone was trying to explain to me the differences between types of yellow trout lily. I figured I could just look it up online later!

Dave, I think they are all classsified as subspecies nowdays, but they really look different to me. Need that portable DNA kit really bad... :)

Mary said...

Rurality, thanks for the song in my head! HA!

You made me laugh at your reactions to an expert as I am similar! Reciting scientific names to me is a waste of time and I wonder why everyone insists on using them :o)

Thanks for your info on varieties of JITPs. I learned something.


Texas Travelers said...

This is a terrific post. I always find something new here. Thanks for sharing all of the great photos and wealth of information.

You always do a great job. In case we forget to say how much we appreciate it, just consider yourself thanked each time.

I certainly enjoyed all the photos and always enjoy your blog.

Texas Travelers said...

To Mary:

Something I forgot to mention about the scientific names. They are like a little puzzle to be unraveled.

Wikipedia usually breaks the scientific name down. You can usually look up the Genus (first part of the scientific name) and tell about it's family. The second part (the species) tells something unique about the individual. I very, very rarely try to memorize the scientific name, but I do use it to look up information.

Different parts of the U.S. use the same common name for different plants. Pretty soon in looking at plants, you will say "I wish they have given the scientific name so that I would know exactly which plant they were talking about."

Sorry to be long winded, but it's useful and can increase your enjoyment of plants (and other creatures)


meresy_g said...

Ooohhhh pretty. How lucky you are to have more than one kind. They are one of my favorite plants. I had a few the last several years that I 'saved' from a roadway widening project, but I believe they may have been victims of chicken scratching as I have yet to see them. I know latin binomials are confusing but they are absolutely integral in many fields. We couldn't delineate a wetland without them.

Rurality said...

Yeah the latin is definitely useful to differentiate between plants. And to me it's interesting to look up what the latin words *mean*. It's often hilarious! My biggest problem though is remembering the plant PART names. And the descriptive terms. Petal and sepal I think I've got down pat. But I am always looking up glaucous, glabrous, etc.! I need to quiz myself I suppose. :)

lisa said...

I love that Japanese variety! I only have a couple of these, and I'm not sure which one. But there are some real beauties out there, and I'm determined to have a collection! Oh yea, smile, nod, and look every time. ;-)

Ontario Wanderer said...

Arisaema triphyllum ssp quinatum is a new one for me. Neat!

I've been neglecting my blog, and everyone elses for awhile. We've two new goats in the family and a donkey coming in two days. Lots of work to get barn and pasture fences ready. Plus, I am spending a lot of time on Flickr. Just not enough hours in the day for everything.

Neat to see that you are being productive on your blog.