But today I pause for an overt gawk at this exotic Jack-in-the-Pulpit, a sylvan surprise with almost impossibly green and purple stripes.
Jack-in-the-Pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum sensu stricto or Arisaema triphyllum s.s.) is one of the most extravagant spring flourishes our woodlands offer. Coming across this beauty recalibrates, we’ll, just about everything. The day, the week, one’s mood, one’s wonder, one’s optimism. A gift of nature. A gift of springtime.
Beyond the beauty, there is mystery. A wondrous, semi sibylline wild neighbor. Let’s take look…
Let’s take a look at the reproductive realm.
The inflorescence can be male (with male flowers only), bisexual (with both male and female flowers), or female (with female flowers only). In a small plant, most if not all of the flowers are male. As the plant matures and grows larger, the spadix produces female flowers as well as male flowers. The transition from male to female continues until eventually the plant produces female flowers only. This is an example of dichogamy, a rare phenomenon in flowering plants. Due to this sex-change lifecycle, this species is sometimes called colloquialy as Jack or Jill in the pulpit or Jill-in-the-pulpit. (Source: Wikipedia, June 23, 2023)
Fascinating, right? Let’s look into “dichogamy” a little further.
Sequential hermaphroditism (called dichogamy in botany) is one of the two types of hermaphroditism, the other type being simultaneous hermaphroditism. It occurs when the organism’s sex changes at some point in its life. In particular, a sequential hermaphrodite produces eggs (female gametes) and sperm (male gametes) at different stages in life. Sequential hermaphroditism occurs in many fish, gastropods, and plants. Species that can undergo these changes do so as a normal event within their reproductive cycle, usually cued by either social structure or the achievement of a certain age or size. (Source: Wikipedia, June 23, 2023)
And you thought I was just showcasing an extravagant bloom! Sometimes nature amplifies our perspective, offering a fresh twist on ideas we consider in other aspects of life…