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St John's Wort

(Hypericum perforatum)

Other Names:

Tipton's weed, chase-devil, or Klamath weed

Range:

Family:

Clusiaceae – Mangosteen family

Identifying characteristics:

Growth Type:

A perennial herbaceous/woody plant

Height:

Up to 1 meter in height

Leaves:

It has opposing, stalkless, narrow, oblong leaves which are 12 mm long or slightly larger. The leaves are yellow-green in color, with transparent dots throughout the tissue and occasionally with a few black dots on the lower surface. Leaves exhibit obvious translucent dots when held up to the light, giving them a ‘perforated’ appearance, hence the plant's Latin name.

Stem/Trunk:

Its stems are erect, branched in the upper section. The lower portion of the stem is woody, while the upper section is herbaceous.

Root:

Extensive creeping rhizomes

Flower:

Season:

Between late Spring and early to mid Summer. The name St. John's Wort comes from the fact that it flowers on or about June 28th, or St. John's day.

Appearance:

Its yellow, five petaled flowers measure up to 2.5 cm across, have five petals, and are colored bright yellow with conspicuous black dots. The ends of the flower petals are often tinged with red. The flowers appear in broad cymes at the ends of the upper branches. The sepals are pointed, with glandular dots in the tissue. There are many stamens, which are united at the base into three bundles. When flower buds (not the flowers themselves) or seed pods are crushed, a reddish/purple liquid is produced. When the plant is at its most potent, crushing the flowers between your fingers will result in purple, or even blackish staining.

Seed/Fruit:

N/A

Miscellaneous characteristics:

Hypericum perforatum is a yellow-flowering perennial herb indigenous to Europe, which has been introduced to many temperate areas of the world and grows wild in many meadows. The common name comes from its traditional flowering and harvesting on St John's day, 24 June. The genus name Hypericum is derived from the Greek words hyper (above) and eikon (picture), in reference to the traditional use of the plant to ward off evil, by hanging plants over a religious icon in the house during St John's day. The species name perforatum refers to the presence of small oil glands in the leaves that look like windows, which can be seen when they are held against the light.

Habitat:

Transplant to waste areas, meadows, roadsides, and other open areas.

Parts Used:

Flowering plant tops. The herbaceous part of the flowing plant is said to be used, but I typically use just the flowers and leaves above the woody base of each stem.

Uses:

Wild Food Uses:

None Known

The following text is meant for informational purposes only. It is not meant to diagnose or treat any illness or injury. Always consult with a physician or other qualified medical care provider concerning the diagnosis and treatment of any illness or injury.

Medicinal Uses:

St John's Wort has emerged as the best selling herbal remedy for Depression. Outselling Prozac by 20 to 1 in Germany, where it is approved for use in the treatment of mild to moderate forms of depression. It is also used to treat nerve pain. There is anecdotal evidence which shows it to be effective at repairing neuropathways, and regenerating nerve tissue. It has also been shown to have antimicrobial properties. It has been shown to kill staphylococcus aureus, (MRSA, also called golden staph, the most common cause of staph infections). I have also taken a course where the herbalist said he has treated TMJ with St. John's Wort, although I have not tried this, nor can I speak to it's efficacy. I can however say this is an extremely important medicinal plant, which no home should be without. I have used infused oils, and tinctures made from the leaves and flowers. Make sure to gather the plant when it first begins to bloom, as this is when it is at it's most potent. When the unopened flower buds, and fresh new flowers crush and form a dark red or purple dye.

Medicinal Actions:

Analgesic, Antidepressant, Anti-Infective, Antimicrobial, Antineoplastic, Antiretroviral, Antiviral, Nervine

Note the translucent dots on the stalkless leaves.

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Revised: 05/11/16 Living Afield