While the colours of these two Jack-in-the-pulpit flowers are quite different, they are of the same species, Arisaema atrorubens, otherwise known as Woodland Jack-in-the-pulpit. Under the umbrella of A. triphyllum, it is up for debate whether or not to consider Woodland Jack as simply a variety or a separate species. Two 3-part leaves as opposed to one is its main distinguishing characteristic.
Woodland Jack grows throughout Southwestern Ontario in woods and swamps. The flowers grow at the base of the boy part, called a spadix, which stands hidden beneath a leaf-like bract, called a spathe. The fruit of Jack grows in a club-like or egg-shaped bunch, deep green through the summer, then bright orange-red as the nights turn cool.
The only edible part of Jack-in-the-pulpit is the corm, an underground storage structure from which the roots sprout. Dangerous to eat raw, due to the presence of calcium oxalate crystals, once thoroughly dried it can be ground into flour or thinly sliced like potato chips.
This story tracks the life of a young Pileated Woodpecker family living in a Beech-Maple forest of Southwestern Ontario.
Recalling the brood, first observed in late May 2016, there were always only two nestlings peering out of the tree. Early on, I saw the mother fly away with something quite large and round in her bill. Was it perhaps a nestling who did not make it? In contrast to this, on June 12th, while the two were quite content to remain where they were, I heard a strong and clear, yet slightly weaker, version of the parents' call, coming from somewhere close to the nest. Following the sound, about 15 feet off the ground I discovered a little one clinging to an adjacent tree. Had this one fallen out prematurely, or was she stronger, with an accelerated development? The next day I observed her high up in a different tree not far from the first. Could she fly?
This painting portrays the fledgling that I observed clinging to a tree trunk near the nest on June 12, 2016. In between vigorous calls of "cuk-cuk-cuk-cuk-cuk", she would groom and stretch out her wings. The parents would answer her calls, then, arrive with sustenance.
The completion of "Fledgling" was interrupted.
As an enthusiastic student of the natural world, I share my explorations of all that is wild with all of you — teacher, parent, and child!