Arisama, from arts, a kind of arum and alma, blood; alluding to the spotted leaves of some species of the genus.
Perennial herb with an acrid corm, sending up a simple scape sheathed with the petioles of the compound, veiny leaves. Rich woods. Nova Scotia to Florida, west to Minnesota and Kansas. Abundant in northern Ohio. April, May.
Violently acrid, fiery to the taste, turnip-shaped, bearing many fibrous roots.
Simple, twelve to eighteen inches high.
Mostly two, divided into three elliptical-ovate, pointed, veiny leaflets.
Monoecious or dioecious, small; both sterile and fertile borne on a spadix, with a hooded spathe, green, or green and purple, striped.
Smooth, club-shaped, pale green, much shorter than the spathe and bearing the tiny flowers about its base. When a spadix bears both kinds of flowers at the same time the sterile flowers are above the fertile; each sterile flower of a cluster consists of four anthers, opening by chinks at the top. There is neither calyx nor corolla. The fertile flowers are at the base of the spadix, and consist each of a one-celled ovary, tipped with a depressed stigma.
Ball-like cluster of bright scarlet berries.
Pollinated by small flies, gnats, and beetles. Nectar-bearing.
" Jack-in-the-Pulpit preaches to-day, Under the green trees, just over the way; Squirrel and Song-Sparrow high on their perch, Hear the sweet lily-bells ringing to church.
" Come, hear what his reverence rises to say, In his low-painted pulpit, this calm Sabbath day. Fair is the canopy over him seen Pencilled by nature's hand, black, brown, and green. Green is his surplice, green are his bands; In his queer little pulpit the little priest stands.
" So much for the preacher, the sermon comes next - Shall we tell how he preached it, and where was his text ? Alas ! like too many grown-up folks who play At worship in churches man-builded to-day, We heard not the preacher expound or discuss; But we looked at the people, and they looked at us.
" We saw all their dresses, their colors, and shapes, The trim of their bonnets, the cut of their capes; We heard the wind-organ, the bee, and the bird, But of Jack-in-the-Pulpit we heard not a word."
- Clara Smith.
The fancy of calling this flower Jack-in-the-Pulpit seems to have arisen from a resemblance between the green canopy which waves over the club-like spadix and the ancient sounding-board formerly placed over pulpits; for Jack is standing within a deep, leaf-like cornucopia whose broad, tapering tip is gracefully curved over his head.
Jack-in-the-Pulpit. Arisama triphyllum
Jack-in-the-Pulpit is a near relation of the Calla-Lily, as a study of the two flowers will show. The club within the protecting and enfolding leaf bears all the flowers of the plant and there are very many. The sterile and the fertile blossoms are in two separate groups sometimes on different plants, but when on the same plant the sterile, that is, the stamens which bear the pollen, are grouped toward the top of the club. They seem to be mere projections almost white in color, bearing four purplish, cup-like anthers filled with white pollen. Below them are the pistillate blossoms gathered around the base of the club, and these are tiny, round, greenish bodies, packed close, and each with a purple stigma.
As time passes, the pollen is scattered. The waving hood disappears, the round, green bodies enlarge, and finally in September one comes upon a ball of brilliant scarlet berries, borne at the summit of a stiff, drying stem, the contribution of Jack to the world. However, at the base of this drying stem, whose work is done, lies, deep in the soil, the corm, where the food is stored which shall send up another Jack in the coming spring. There is a tradition that this solid corm was used as food by the Indians, which gave the plant the name of Indian-Turnip. It must have been a hot morsel, if not a dangerous one, though it is said that the character of the turnip is softened somewhat by boiling, but it could never be very appetizing. This plant has two anchors to windward, a corm, and a ball of seeds, so that the race may continue in the land.
The English Jack is called Cuckoo-Pint and is the flower Jean Ingelow means in her Songs of Seven:
"O Cuckoo-Pint, toll me the purple clapper, That hangs in your clear green bell."
The varying color of the spathes are by some authorities supposed to indicate differences in the flowers, the dark spathes indicating pistillate and the light ones staminate flowers. This certainly does not hold true in all cases but it seems to be true in the majority. A second report is that the blossoms of the one-leaved stems are mainly staminate and those of the two-leaved mainly pistillate. All of this emphasizes the fact that there is much undiscovered country very near us.