Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Common Jack-in-the-pulpit - Arisaema triphyllum   (L.) Schott
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Section 5 » Order Arales » Family Araceae
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Author(L.) Schott
DistributionArisaema triphyllum has recently been split into several species (that are found in NC), and many herbarium specimens have not been checked to verify their identity. Therefore, for each of the species of the "Arisaema triphyllum group" -- A. pusillum, A. quinatum, A. stewardsonii, and A. triphyllum (strict sense), the website editors have mapped only records where the species name (i.e., A. pusillum) or the variety (i.e., A. triphyllum var. pusillum) is on the specimen label. Simple "Arisaema triphyllum" records are not mapped. As a result, the range map for each of these four species is likely quite incomplete. Nonetheless, A. triphyllum (strict sense) has an essentially statewide range.
AbundancePresumed to be common across the state. It is unclear if there is really a range gap or abundance gap in the distribution in the western Coastal Plain and northeastern Piedmont, as seen on the map. Note that A. pusillum is also considered to be common statewide by Weakley (2018), and it is not clear which is the more numerous, if indeed one is. But, based on SERNEC specimens, A. triphyllum is certainly the more numerous of the two, if not the only one, in the lower half of the Coastal Plain.
HabitatThis is a widespread species found in many if not most bottomland forests in the state. It can grow into the drier portions of swamps, and on lower slopes or other rich slopes, but it mostly grows in damp, flat, and shady ground.
PhenologyBlooms in March and April, and fruits soon after flowering.
IdentificationOf the now four species of "jack-in-the-pulpit" in the state, this is the primary one, the most numerous over the majority of the state and the one most people are familiar with. The leaf, divided into three broadly ovate to rhombic leaflets about 4-5 inches long and about one-half as wide, grows at the top of a 2-foot tall stem, with these leaflets parallel to the ground and arranged such that they point to 9, 12, and 3 on a clock face (i.e., are not evenly spaced as in trilliums). The large spathe is several inches tall and shaped like a pulpit, with the spadix inside looking like the preacher in the pulpit. This species has glaucous undersides to the leaves, as does A. quinatum, but that species has normally 5 leaflets and a hood with a somewhat rounded tip. A. triphyllum has the end of the hood coming to a rather long acute tip. Downstate, the only other species is generally A. pusillum, but it is somewhat smaller overall, has leaves green on the undersides, and has the hood of the spathe that is solid green or solid purple. This is one of the most frequently seen wildflowers of bottomland forests, often most easily seen by walking along a greenway that traverses a floodplain forest.
Taxonomic CommentsThough this has always been a good species, as mentioned above, three entities have been named within it, and some authors give them full species status. See the Distribution section for more information. Even with these three pulled out, A. triphyllum (strict sense) still seems to be common and widespread in the state, though exact details of abundance and range are muddled.

Other Common Name(s)Jack-in-the-pulpit (the standard common name for the species complex)
State RankS5
Global RankG5
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