What You Can See on April 13
Submitted by Ted Williams on Thu, 04/13/2006 - 09:46.
From Audubon’s Earth Almanac by Ted Williams and compiled in “Wild Moments,” edited by Connie Isbell, Illustrations by John Burgoyne, Storey Publishing, 174 pages. Jill-in-the-Pulpit If you’ve left any bootprints in low, wet places along the eastern coastal plain and piedmont, you’ve probably encountered the jack-in-the-pulpit. This cousin of the skunk cabbage is named for the hood that serves as an umbrella, protecting flowers and pollen and resembling the baffle of an old-fashioned pulpit. “Jack” is the clublike, flower-bearing spadix within. What you might not have realized is that there are female jack-in-the-pulpits, known as jills, and that a usually one-leafed jack will change into a usually two-leafed jill if growing conditions are good. Jills change back into jacks when growing conditions worsen. To distinguish the sex, gently lift the hood. If the flowers deep inside look like threads, you’ve got a jack. If they resemble tiny green berries, you’ve got a jill. These ubiquitous spring wildflowers transplant well, but the stress tends to turn jills into jacks. Better to wait till late summer and collect the red berries for planting.