On Tuesday night I went for a sundown walk in the Preserve and enjoyed a few warbler species in the Caretaker's Woods as I experienced the dusking of the woods. Up in the prairie, I followed the wild mutterings of a pair of house wrens and noticed the elm leaves growing fast. I lingered in hopes of hearing the "peent" of a woodcock, and maybe seeing a skydance, but only heard the last calls from a few sparrows. Then on my way to Frautshi Point, I noticed these cup-shaped flowers with droopy tops and blazing green stripes. Jack in the pulpit (Arisaema tryphillum) have some of the most nondescript flowers of our woodland plants. The flower is the dark brown finger sticking up from the middle of the cup. Commonly confused with trillium, jack in the pulpit may have one to three leaves, which are 8 inches long and broader than trillium leaves. While the flowers are drab, the fruits are a cluster of green berries, turning bright red over the summer. These do not spread via their roots (rhizomes) like many other woodland flowers, so you are likely to find only a few here and there. This patch near Lake Mendota is certainly worth a look.
Gisela Kutzbach and contributors