HERE is a floral jack-in-the-box that has been a delight to every child east of the Mississippi Valley since Columbus popularized American tours. And its bright red berries and large, solid bulb tickled the palates of our dear old Indians many years previous to this great and most eventful proposition. There is nothing solemn about this curiously constructed flower - indeed, it is very amusing, if not ridiculous. Jack is not a preacher. Far from it - he is a peeper, popping up here and there in shady nooks where he erects his artistic summer house, and is ever on the lookout to surprise us in our woodland rambles during May. The violently acrid bulb is exceeding fiery to the taste, and has been used as a remedy for asthma, whooping-cough and rheumatism.
The Indian Turnip is a perennial herb, and grows from about one to three feet in height. Each plant bears one or two large, spreading, three-parted leaves, which overtop the flower hood. The strongly ribbed, broad, oval leaflets taper at the tip, and are set on long, round, smooth stems, that are sheathed toward the foot. The insignificant and inconspicuous yellow flowers are clustered around the base of a slender green club or spadix, which is seated within a deep, leaf-like cornucopia whose broad, tapering tip is gracefully curved over the erect, protruding head of the green "Jack." This leafy formation is known as the spathe, and answers to the white floral part of the familiar Calla Lily. It is green, with darker green or purple stripes, and is seated upon the end of a stout stem, which springs from between the sheaths of the leaf stems. In the fall, the short, stiff, club-like clusters of bright scarlet, berry-like fruit are very attractive. Jack is found commonly in rich, moist woods and thickets from Nova Scotia to Florida, and west to Ontario, Minnesota, Kansas, and Louisiana.