Arisaema triphyllum


The Secret Behind Jack's Name

Common names for Arisaema triphyllum include jack-in-the-pulpit, Indian turnip, and bog onion.  The most popular of these is jack-in-the pulpit, which refers to the spathe, or "pulpit", from which the spadix, "Jack", arises.

The scientific name is Arisaema triphyllum.   We can glean a lot of information from just these two words.  Arisaema comes from the Greek words aris, small herb, and haema, or blood.  Triphyllum, on the other hand, is Latin for three-leaved.

When it comes to a complete scientific name, a great deal can actually be learned just by looking at an organism's name.  Read below to find out the meaning behind all the names that are used to describe the jack-in-the-pulpit.  Thanks to Frank and Mary Hoffman of for providing the image to the right and many others on this webpage.  Check out their homepage by using the link above or click on the picture to see more awesome pictures of the jack-in-the pulpit!



Domain: Eukarya --- This domain includes all eukaryotes, which are organisms that possess membrane bound organelles and a true nucleus.

Kingdom: Plantae --- Plantae is the kingdom of the plants, which are a group of organisms that are able to use photosynthesis for food.

Phylum: Magnoliophyta --- Also known as Anthophyta, this phylum contains all flowering plants.  These plants are characterized by flowers and true fruits.

Class: Liliopsida --- This group consists of flowering plants called monocotyledons.  A monocot has only one cotyledon or seed leaf in the seed embryo. You can see a webpage for another member of this class, trillium(Trillium grandiphlorum), if you click here.

Order: Arales --- Members of Arales are aroids, which means they produce a spathe and a spadix.  The spathe is a modified leaf that protects the spadix.  The spadix is the spike within the spathe.  The flowers of the jack-in-the pulpit grow at the base of the spadix.  Click the link below to see pictures of male and female flowers on the reproduction page. 

Family: Araceae --- Members of the Arum family.  Plants that are placed here possess a horizontal, underground stem.  In the jack-in-the-pulpit, this is called a corm.  They are commonly classified as herbs and often have calcium oxalate crystals and milky sap.

Genus: Arisaema --- This genus includes stemless, tuberous herbs.  Members of Arisaema can be found in North America, Asia, and Africa.

Species: Arisaema triphyllum --- This is the one and only jack-in-the pulpit.  Or in reality, this is one large, polymorphic species that can be broken down into 3 or 4 subspecies.  In addition, there are other species that take jack-in-the-pulpit as their common name, causing some to label this particular species the woodland jack-in-the-pulpit.

Off to the left is a picture of a male jack-in-the-pulpit.  The gender of this plant can be determined by the number of leaves the plant has.  In this case, the plant has only one leaf and is therefore male, whereas a female plant would have two leaves.  To learn more about the interesting reproductive cycle of Arisaema triphyllum, head on over to the reproduction page or to see some phylogenetic trees based on the classification above, check out the adaptation page.