by Jane Scully
This distinctive plant may be the signature wildflower of spring for many people. The aptly named formation, like many wildflowers, hides its flower under its leaves. It's a springtime game to seek out the unique flower below its two long-stemmed, three-part leaves to see the club-like little figure (the spadix) standing so upright in the curving ridged hood, or pulpit (the spathe). The spadix bears tiny separate male and female flowers at the base.
These are wildflowers of the damp woods and swamps, growing to heights of one to two feet, often in large groups. If you see one, you'll probably see many more if you look around.
There are a variety of colorings to the jack-in-the-pulpit that run from green to purplish-brown on both the jack and the striped pulpit, which is often streaked or mottled. The plant has the double blessing of developing a cluster of shiny red berries on the spadix or jack in late summer and fall.
Who ever said green flowers were boring?