Rock Island Ecological Services Field Office
Midwest Region


Rock Island Field Office
1511 47th Avenue
Moline, IL  61265

Phone:  309-757-5800

Fax: 309-757-5807

Federal Relay:  800-877-8339




Ecological Corner


April Showers bring May Flowers


by Heidi Woeber




Jack-in-the-Pulpit likes moist to mesic soil containing a lot of organic material from decaying leaves and other material. My backyard fits that description. We live near a wooded ravine and have naturalized large portions of our yard that we do not rake or mow. The shady hillside of our property offers dappled sunlight to light shade during the spring. Every spring I look for Jack-in-the Pulpit. Most times I move aside dead leaves to find them. The blooming period occurs from mid- to late-spring and lasts about two weeks (the plant is still attractive for a longer period of time). Pictures don’t do it justice. The light green of the outer leaves is vibrant and bright like that of a Granny Smith apple. The plant is a favorite woodland flower because of its unusual flowers. The long narrow “spadix” that protrudes from the spathe is the “Jack” and the “spathe” surrounds and creates a type of hood or canopy above the spadix is the “Pulpit”.

The flowers are pollinated by fungus gnats and the larvae of parasitic thrips. The foliage and corms (underground plant stems) contain crystals of calcium oxalate, which can cause a burning sensation in the mouth and irritation of the gastrointestinal tract, so the plant is rarely eaten by mammalian herbivores. Upland gamebirds may feed on the foliage, including the Wild Turkey. Sometimes, the red berries are eaten by some woodland birds, including Wood Thrush and Wild Turkey.


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Last updated: June 4, 2011