The flower, for which jack-in-the pulpit receives its name, is comprised of a long, brown spadix, measuring 5-7.5 cm. in length, which is mottled along its base with tiny, separate female and male flowers. This spadix is enveloped in a green and brown streaked (or speckled) spathe. The spathe forms a pitcher-like structure around the spadix and has a flared lip and a long, tapered hood that extends over the spadix. The flower is positioned singularly atop a thick, rigid stem.
The berry-like fruit are round and bright red. They are arranged in an elongated cluster along the length of the spadix.
The leaves are large, elliptical, and dull green. They have long petioles and very pronounced veining. Leaves are arranged in groupings of three or less atop a thick, rigid stem that extends above the flowering structure.
Jack-in-the-pulpit grows best in damp woods and swamps.
Jack-in-thee-pulpit receives its name from the structure of its unique flower. The spadix (jack) "stands" in the pulpit-like structure of the spathe.
Jack-in-the-pulpit is an edible plant. Native Americans harvested jack-in-the-pulpit corms (fleshy underground stem structures, much like tubers) for consumption. However, this wildflower must not be eaten raw because the corms contain needle-like calcium oxalate crystals and other vicious chemicals that give them an unpleasant peppery taste and produce a painfully strong burning sensation on the tongue. Cooking breaks down these chemicals.
Other names attribute to the jack-in-the-pulpit include the Indian turnip.