This curious-looking flower may grow up to two feet tall in well-moistened, rich soils in eastern deciduous forests. The spathe is green with a flap that hangs over the spadix, which holds the tiny flowers at its base making them difficult to see. Each plant has one or two large, three-lobed leaves. In autumn, the cluster of bright red berries are borne aloft at the tip of the stalk.
Few wild mammals will feed on this plant as all parts of the Jack-in-the-Pulpit contain calcium oxalate crystals making the plant unpalatable and poisonous. Agricultural experts suggest that livestock should be excluded from pastures and forests in which Jack-in-the-Pulpit grows until other more benign plants turn green lessening the likelihood of poisoning. Some birds, including wild turkeys, will eat the berries.
Want to Help Us Better Understand the Park?
See our iNaturalist project, "The Life of the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area" and contribute to it by downloading the iNaturalist app and uploading your sightings of this species, and others, to the project. You can also upload your sightings from your computer.
Last updated: March 10, 2021