One such plant is the Jack-in-the-pulpit, which blooms for a short time in mid-spring. The plant sprouts one or two stalks, each with three leaflets. These may be large or small; the plant shown above was particularly large. It may sprout an additional stalk that bears the flower. The flower, which gives the plant its name, is a bit unusual in its structure. Instead of petals, the jack-in-the-pulpit has a spathe that curves up and over to protect the inner parts of the flower. This forms the "pulpit." Instead of stamens and a pistil, it has a spadix that sits inside space protected by the spathe and bears the plant's reproductive organs. This is the "Jack."
Jack-in-the-pulpits are blooming right in New Jersey, so look for these unique plants while they are still in flower. Look for them in wet woods or swampy areas. I photographed the plants shown in this post at Heathcote Meadows Preserve last Saturday.