(Common Jack in the Pulpit - Indian Turnip - Lords and Ladies - Wild Turnip - Devils Ear - Wild Pepper - Dragon Turnip and Priests Pintle.)
Araceae (Arum) Family
Jack-In-The-Pulpit is also known as Indian Turnip, Lords and Ladies, Wild Turnip, Devils Ear, Wild Pepper, Dragon Turnip and Priests Pintle.
Plant is an upright, smooth perennial from a corm (thickened, short, upright underground stem, often covered with thin, dry leaves similar to gladiolus). Preferred habitat is in hardwoods and flood plains. Distribution is throughout the Escambia region.
Leaves are one or two at the most; divided into five leaflets or segments on stalks.
Flowers are cylindrical with spadix green and a purple striped spathe that spreads at the top; flowers are imperfect with female flowers below; male flowers above. Sepals and petals are absent. Flowers occur in early spring.
Fruit is a sphere of red berries or in elongated clusters.
Some authorities recognize one species while others recognize three, which recognition is based on minor differences in leaves, spathe and size. Because of needle-like calcium oxalate crystals in the underground tuber, it is peppery to the taste and causes a strong burning reaction if eaten raw. This unpleasant property can be eliminated by cooking. Indians gathered the fleshy taproot as a vegetable. In some parts of the country this practice is continued as a mild substitute in soups and stews.