Local differentiation and plasticity in size and sex expression in jack-in-the-pulpit, Arisaema triphyllum (Araceae)

Pati Vitt*, Kent E. Holsinger, Cynthia S. Jones

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


The size advantage hypothesis suggests that natural selection will favor size-dependent sex expression when one sex gains more than the other by being large. But members of a minority sex will also have a higher reproductive value, on average. Thus, an individual's reproductive success depends on the reproductive decisions made by neighboring individuals. As a result, the optimal relationship between size and sex may differ among populations. In Arisaema triphyllum, the probability for an individual to be female increases with size, regardless of the character measured. A reciprocal transplant experiment showed the relationship between size and sexual expression is environmentally plastic. Plants originating from our two study sites became female at a larger average size when grown at one site than when grown at the other. In addition to environmental influence on sex expression, the experiment demonstrated genetic differences in the relationship between size and sex. Plants collected from one site became female at a larger size than those from the other, regardless of where they were grown. Thus, while the environment in which an individual was grown had a substantial influence on its sex expression, populations only a few kilometers apart have genetically different relationships between size and sex.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1729-1735
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Botany
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2003


  • Araceae
  • Arisaema triphyllum
  • Connecticut
  • Environmental sex determination
  • Jack-in-the-pulpit
  • Local differentiation
  • Plasticity
  • Reciprocal transplant
  • Sex change

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Genetics
  • Plant Science


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