YORK COUNTY, Pa. (WHTM) — Arisaema triphyllum, aka Jack-in-the-pulpit (aka bog onion, aka brown dragon), is a perennial plant named for its unusual flower. Its range extends across the eastern and central parts of the United States.
This Jack is more of a Jackling — it’s only about seven inches high. Jack-in-the-pulpit can grow up to about 2 feet. In addition to the central stalk with the flower, one or two large leaves, which divide into three leaflets, grow up on their own stalks.
The plant flowers from March through June and is pollinated primarily by small flies and gnats. The bright red berries contain one to five seeds and ripen in the fall, and they are an attractive food source for birds, rodents, insects, and even turtles.
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It is, however, nothing that humans should eat. Jack-in-the-pulpit contains its own fire and brimstone in the form of calcium oxalate crystals. A lot of birds and reptiles, and even some mammals, can eat it without harm, but people are not so lucky. The roots can actually blister the skin if touched, and all parts of the plant can be painfully irritating if ingested. If you’re planting or transplanting a Jack-in-the-pulpit, it’s a good idea to wear gloves while handling it.
Jack-in-the-pulpit can grow in a number of locations but prefers areas that are moist and shady. It’s very easily cultivated and makes an unusual — and somewhat whimsical — addition to a garden.