It is the time of year when the woods is full of Jacks. They are hard to spot at first, blending in with the other greens of the forest floor. But after you spot one, then you will soon see others all around. The three leaves that shade them look like the trilliums that also bloom now, but there, on a separate stem is the Jack in the Pulpit. Arisaema triphyllum. I have seen them all my life and scarcely give them a second glance when looking for Columbine and Wild Geranium. So when one caught my attention the other day, you know it was something special.
I had seen a couple stems of something earlier in the week and had marked them as being unknown, and to watch to see what they turned into. I was now on a different piece of Camphill Land. Following a deer trail on the edge of swampy area, I was entranced by the sheer number of ferns, scanning the ground for unfurled fiddleheads. And there it was. A Jack in the Pulpit over 2 feet tall. The stem was over 3/4 inches across. A giant Jack!
This led me to research when I got home and I found out several interesting things.
1. There is only one species of Jack in the pulpit in Minnesota.
2. There are male and female Jack in the Pulpits.
3. The same plant grows each year from a root and either becomes a male or a female for reasons not all together clear at this point.
4. It can change from one to the other over the years.
5. The extra large Jack in the pulpits are actually females..I would call them Jill in the pulpit!
6. Most of the Large ones also have two sets of three leaves instead of one set.
So lurking out there in the woods are monsterous Jill in the pulpits, along with May Flowers, Columbine, and Wild Geranium. The mosquitos have also shown up. But who cares when there are Giant Jacks to see!