I’m so glad I spent time photographing wild ginger a couple weeks ago, now that I’m nursing a broken foot that’s preventing me from a deep exploration of my garden. I’ve been looking through those photos plus a few I found from last year.

The wild ginger stands out in my garden, before its neighboring summer-blooming flowers have started appearing.

Three flowering plants, each with two fuzzy leaves on long stems and a dark-red flower at their base.

This woodland plant has beautiful, heart-shaped leaves.

Overhead view of two large, heart-shaped leaves. The top heart is upside-down and the bottom leaf is right-side up.

Landscapers say this is an excellent groundcover. It spreads, but not too quickly.

Dozens of leaves taking up the entire frame.

This spot in my garden has roughly tripled in size in six years.

Wider view of two clumps of wild ginger.

Every year I see people comment on Instagram that they didn’t realize these plants have flowers. They hide really well!

Dark-red flower barely poking out under two big leaves.

The flowers are weird and wonderful.

Focus on a flower with three long, greenish, skinny sepals branching off a red flower, like legs running.

They’re close to the ground, sometimes even resting on the ground, which makes them attractive to ants that carry the seeds to new areas. The dark color and bad smell (which I cannot vouch for) apparently attract flies that pollinate the flowers.

Closeup of a flower that's on the ground.

The leaves start out lying flat.

A single leaf, looking like it's swaddled with a brown blanket.

Then the leaves pop up and the flower appears — like a sea creature poking out of its shell.

Ground view of the fully open flower, though only its two bottom sepals are visible, with its two leaves cradling the top.

Within a couple days, the leaves are fully grown. Sometimes they look like a pair of antennas.

One plant with its leaves sticking out in a V shape.

New plants apparently start out as teeny-tiny replicas. I’ll have to watch these next year to see if they’re “oldies” that will flower.

Six miniature plants with their leaves sticking straight up, no flowers, next to a quarter that is almost as big.

More about wild ginger

A photo essay starting at the end and evolving backwards.

Clusters of berries that have been partially eaten, perhaps by birds that will spread the seeds to new areas:

Partially eaten jack-in-the-pulpit berries, with white spots where the berries were.

Beautiful ripe berries:

Ripe jack-in-the-pulpit berries.

Because there are berries, these two plants were female.

Mostly green berries that are just starting to turn red.

But get this: next year, both of these same plants will probably be male! Jack-in-the-pulpits change sex depending on how much energy they have stored. Producing berries takes a lot of energy, so usually the next year they’re male.

Dark green jack-in-the-pulpit berries.

Family photo of four blooming jacks under their tall, umbrella-like leaves. I assume the two plants on the right are male, though I didn’t know to check while they were blooming. Next year I will look more closely!

Four jack-in-the-pulpits under their tall leaves.

Stretching their leaves open:

Two jack-in-the-pulpit plants with their leaves still unfurling.


Three jack-in-the-pulpit plants that are just beginning to open.

Just getting started:

Two short pointed shoots coming out of the ground.

About this flower

These four jack-in-the-pulpits seem to have just had an argument and none of them can stand to even look at each other.

four green flowers, each facing in slightly a different direction, including two backwards

(Or should it be jacks-in-the-pulpit? jacks-in-the-pulpits? There are multiple jacks and multiple pulpits.)

The one on the far left even looks like he’s just exclaimed “Humph!” and is scowling like Sam Eagle of the Muppets.

two green flowers, one with its spathe perfectly in position to appear like a face with a sneer

Less than a week ago, the third one looked like this cool guy:

closeup of a green flower with its spathe swooshing out in front

Now, he’s so upset he’s off-kilter:

a green flower facing backwards, its right side lower than its left

In late April I noticed that the wild geranium section had multiplied since last year. This transplanted wildflower was a solid mass of green leaves.

wild geranium leaves filling the frame

I couldn’t wait for them to start blooming because I imagined a crowded sea of pinkish-purple flowers.

about three dozen flowers, viewed from above

A month later, that proved true. One afternoon, I couldn’t seem to stop taking photos.

a stem with three open flowers viewed from the side, two of the styles visible

three flowers tightly clustered so their petals push against each other

two open flowers and a bud about to open

four blooming on one stem in the foreground, only one pointed toward the camera, with lots blurred in the background

a bee curved around the style

an ant walking near the edge of a flower

four flowers in the foreground, viewed from the side, with many flowers blurred in the background

the entire cluster of flowers, viewed from the top

Plant source: Transplant from my mom’s garden.

More about wild geraniums