Seed head of a jack-in-the-pulpit

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The jack-in-the-pulpit is a native North American woodland flower that blooms in early spring in Southeast Missouri.

This spring and summer I have seen many jack-in-the-pulpit plants dry up and die before going to seed. I suspect that many of them will not come back next spring, but since the plant grows from a corm it is possible that many will survive.

These small plants are quite tender while growing and have a shallow root system. They may grow to about two feet tall in rich soil when cool moist conditions persist in springtime. But most jack-in-the-pulpits in Southeast Missouri grow to a height of only about 12 inches when mature and producing seed. It takes three years of growing, dying back and reappearing each spring before the plant is mature.

This photo shows a jack-in-the-pulpit seed head. This particular plant has survived this years drought well enough to produce a seed head. The larger red berries will each likely have two to three small viable white seeds inside. When the single stem withers and falls down, the seeds that come in contact with soil and subsequently get covered by autumn leaves are likely to sprout and grow the following spring.

Through the Woods is a weekly nature photo column by Aaron Horrell. Find this column at semissourian.com to order a reprint of the photo. Find more work by him at the Painted Wren Gallery.

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