The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Currents

April 30, 2014

Into the woods, in search of 'Jack'

Showy Jack-in-the-pulpits also thrive in shade gardens

A trip to the park doesn’t have to feature swings and jungle gyms to entertain children. Encouraging them to train their eyes to discover the wonders of nature builds a lifelong skill which will enrich their lives.

In May, one of the strangest and most intriguing flowers to search for is the 1-foot-tall Jack-in-the-pulpit. It has a rod of tiny flowers enclosed in a tubular green to brown structure with a flap on top. The name refers to the pulpit with an overhang found in many historic churches; the minister, in this case, is Jack. Three broad leaves accompany the flowers, which are similar to the leaves on another showy spring flower, the trillium.

This exotic plant is fairly common in our southern Minnesota woodlands and ravines. In fall, the Jack-in-the-pulpit may produce a cluster of bright, red, fleshy seeds to reproduce itself. When you find a Jack, gently lift the overhang and you will get a closer look at the flowers and also view the striped underside of the overlap, which is very colorful.

This is an easy plant to include in your own shade garden if you can buy one at a local nursery. It transplants easily into humus-rich soil with enough moisture during the summer. Plant it with some of the compost you have produced from your vegetable and fruit discards. Jack-in-the-pulpits are good companion plants to the popular hostas. If allowed to go to seed, they will slowly multiply.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Currents
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
NDN Video
Allison Williams Will Star as Peter Pan in Live TV Broadcast Orlando Bloom 'Takes a Swing' at Justin Bieber In Ibiza Drew Barrymore's Half-Sister Found Dead Orlando Bloom and Justin Bieber Reportedly Came To Blows In Ibiza Ariana Grande's Troubled Relationship With Father Is Beyonce Apartment Hunting Solo? Go Inside The Rumored New Digs EXCLUSIVE! Jesse McCartney is a Geeky Guest Star on 'Young and Hungry'—Watch Now! "Maxim" Hotness! See Jessica Alba's Sizzling Spread Ripped Ripa! Watch Out Kelly's Got Guns Kate Upton Told to Lose Weight Maksim Chmerkovskiy on his "DWTS" Future Bikini-rific! Hilary Duff Wows in New Music Video Ian Somerhalder Puckers Up for One Lucky Fan "Bachelorette" Runner-Up Drops a Bombshell "The Bachelorette" Makes Her Decision Golden Sisters on '50 Shades' trailer: 'Look At That Chest!' Sexy Celeb Hook-Ups at 2014 Comic-Con "Housewives" Celeb Shares Bikini Photo Album Zayn Malik Gets Death Threats for #FreePalestine Tweet One Direction's Liam Payne Strips off on Instagram