Jack in the Pulpit

Arisaema triphyllum

Description & Overview

Single paired 8-12″ long, 3-lobed leaves frame the unusual green and purple hooded flowers. A superb woodland plant that becomes most visible in early autumn when its striking clusters of orange-red berries appear on leafless stalks brightening up shaded recesses.

Core Characteristics

Mature Height: 1-2 feet
Mature Spread: 1 foot
Growth Rate: Perennial
Growth Form: Clump forming perennial
Light Requirements: Full Shade
Site Requirements: Humus-rich moist-wet soils. Best performance in seasonally wet locations with heavy leaf litter.
Flower: Cylindrical hooded flower, green-purple in color
Bloom Period: May
Foliage: Dark green
Fall Color: N/A
Fruit Notes: Orange-Red Berries

Suggested Uses

Naturalizing shady spaces, native understory plant, post-buckthorn removal

Left: Arisaema triphyllum leaves | Right: Jack in the Pulpit fruit

Wildlife Value

Fruit is of value to birds and mammals.

Maintenance Tips

Leave up overwinter to protect roots. Mulch and water as necessary once established, little care required otherwise.


None known.

Leaf Lore

The “Jack” of Jack in the Pulpit is a spike-like flower structure called a spadix. The spadix is made up of tiny male and female flowers that will produce the orange berries in fall. The “Pulpit” is a large, single petal-like structure called a spathe that wraps itself around Jack like a hood or a preacher’s pulpit. Renowned American artist and Wisconsin native, Georgia O’Keefe was inspired by Arisaema and created a series of oil paintings in the 1930’s that closely examined its unusual beauty.

Though the name seems pleasant enough, all parts of Jack in the Pulpit are poisonous, especially the underground rooting structures called corms. To eat a corm of Jack in the Pulpit creates an intense burning sensation in the month, hence the origin of another common name of Arisaema– “Brown Dragon”. The plant contain crystals of calcium oxalate that, when mixed with saliva, become fiery daggers. If ingested, the crystals can cause upset stomach, damage to the liver and kidneys, even death.

Companion Plants

Pair with other Jack in the Pulpit to produce fruit because individual plants cannot self-pollinate.