Determinants of gender in Jack-in-the-pulpit: the influence of plant size and reproductive history

Oecologia. 1984 Dec;65(1):14-18. doi: 10.1007/BF00384456.


Jack-in-the-pulpit, Arisaema triphyllum, is a perennial forest herb with the ability to change sex. At two sites in upstate New York, plant sex was correlated with plant size: males were smaller than females, nonflowering plants were smaller than males. Changes in plant size were accompanied by changes in sex. Sex change occurred quite frequently; at one site, 8% of nonflowering plants, 64% of males, and 63% of females changed their sex from one season to the next. The probability that a plant will change size and sex between years was altered by artificial defoliation and by the production of seeds, but was not affected by supplementing plants with nutrient fertilizer. Discriminant analysis indicated that several historical factors significantly affected plant sex: a model including the variables of current plant size, previous year's plant size, and previous year's sex was significantly better at predicting the current sex of individuals than was a model containing only current plant size. However, even the consideration of these three variables left up to a third of the plants misclassified with respect to gender. This analysis explains in part why plants at the two sites changed sex at different sizes, but it is likely that other factors-e.g. genetic differences-are involved.