What’s in a name – Arisaema triphyllum ssp. pusillum

Thanksgiving weekend wasn’t just fun but also collecting seeds (same thing actually :) Last spring, at the edge of a swamp we found a bunch of short Jacks flowering at least 2 weeks earlier than the ‘typical’ A. triphyllum (ssp. triphyllum) plants growing in the same area in the woods. Erythronium and Hepatica were in full flowering at that time.

Arisaema triphyllum ssp. pusillum

Arisaema triphyllum ssp. pusillum

With the leaves just developing, the flowers were very noticeable – most of them green and one plant with an inside-purple spathe, with narrow flange; the spathe tube not corrugated. Also the spathe didn’t have the usual flopping down aspect but a more perky attitude; spadix green, cylindrical. The foliage, as much as I noticed, was green below and moderately gibbous (with small swellings on the undersides).

Arisaema triphyllum ssp. pusillum2

Arisaema triphyllum ssp. pusillum#2

I described here, at my best, A. triphyllum ssp. pusillum. It may be only 98% true to the name but it’s more than 100% :) a Jack-in-the-pulpit than should be grown in a wet area of the garden: the edge of the pond, along a stream… Arisaema and wildflowers connoisseurs know well that Arisaema triphyllum is highly variable and has a few subspecies that are recognized or not by different authorities. All 3 A. triphyllum ssp. can hybridize being difficult to identify accurately.

I don’t know if the very early flowering character is characteristic to A.triphyllum ssp. pusillum or only to this population, but it’s a big bonus! I was particularly attracted by the reddish one because of the ‘looking-up’ aspect not often seen in A. triphyllum and the very long spathe tube (maybe a hybrid?).

Who knows what other interesting form will arise from these seeds?

2 replies
    • diversifolius
      diversifolius says:

      Thank you. I wanted to be precise and used the description from a Flora; true that it is not a word used too often but makes it sound more interesting.

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