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Prester John, Jack-in-the-Pulpit, Preacher John, Southern Jack-in-the-Pulpit, Five-leaved Jack-in-the-Pulpit - Arisaema quinatum


Family: Araceae - Arum family Genus Common Name: Jack-in-the-Pulpit, Indian Turnip Native Status: Native
Arisaema quinatum - Prester John, Jack-in-the-Pulpit, Preacher John, Southern Jack-in-the-Pulpit, Five-leaved Jack-in-the-Pulpit. In my VERY limited observation there are notable differences between this plant, Arisaema quinatum, and Arisaema triphyllum and most other species of Arisaema. The most easily noticed difference is that A. quinatum has the appearance of having 5 leaflets while all the other species (except A. dracontium) clearly have three. The few individuals I have observed also implies that A. quinatum blooms later, the spathe is smaller relative to the flowering stalk height, and the spadix is thinner than in A. triphyllum. A. quinatum is also found much less frequently than Arisaema triphyllum, as well as having a much narrower distribution in North America, limited to several southeastern states.

Synonym: Arisaema triphyllum ssp. quinatum

Update 04/11/2016: I was recently looking at Arisaema, a genus I haven't investigated for identification for quite some time, in Alan S. Weakley's Flora of the Southern and Mid-Atlantic United States and I discovered that Weakley separates as species this plant and others that have been considered subspecies to Arisaema triphyllum in most "official" publications - such as ITIS and Flora of North America. I agree with this separation, and now list it on this site as Arisaema quinatum.

Found in:
AL, FL, GA, KY, LA, MS, MC, SC, TN, TX

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Arisaema quinatum

Distribution of Arisaema quinatum in the United States and Canada:
USDA Plants Distribution Map temporarily unavailable.
Blue=Native; Grey=Introduced

Map from USDA Plants Database:
USDA, NRCS. 2017. The PLANTS Database (http://plants.usda.gov, 13 Dec 2017). National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA.

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Site: Zahnd's Natural Area (Lower), Walker County, GA Date: 2010-April-23Photographer: Gerald C. Williamson
The name Jack in the pulpit comes from the spadix inside the spathe appearing conceptually similar to a preacher in a covered lectern. Prester John was a legendary Christian patriarch and king said to rule over a Christian nation in the Orient variously place in India or Ethiopia. For more on this legends, see the Wikipedia article.

Here you see the spadix within the spathe in Arisaema triphyllum ssp. quinatum
Arisaema quinatum

Site: Zahnd's Natural Area (Lower), Walker County, GA Date: 2010-April-23Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D60
1/25f/3.2 ISO200
Tamron SP 90MM f/2.8 AF Macro
90mm (135 equiv)
Prester John (aka Jack in the Pulpit) suspecies quinatum showing the charactistic that easily differentiates it from other subspecies of Arisaema triphyllum - it has the appearance of 5 leaflets while other subspecies show only 3. In reality the extra leaflets are lobes on the two outer leaflets.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Arisaema quinatum

Site: Zahnd's Natural Area (Lower), Walker County, GA Date: 2010-April-23Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D60
Arisaema triphyllum ssp. quinatum appears to have 5 leaflets, but like other A. triphyllum subspecies, really only has 3.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Arisaema quinatum

Site: Zahnd's Natural Area (Lower), Walker County, GA Date: 2010-April-23Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D60
The detail show that what looks like two leaflets are really two deep lobes in a single leaflet. This is the case with both outer leaflets in Arisaema triphyllum ssp. quinatum.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Arisaema quinatum

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All content except USDA Plants Database map Copyright Gerald C. Williamson 2017
Photographs Copyright owned by the named photographer