- St. John’s Wort Seeds – Hypericum Perforatum Flower Seed
- Connect With Us!
- Planting St. John’s Wort
- Harvesting St. John’s Wort
- Using Your Harvest
- Healing With St. John’s Wort
- Are There Any Concerns?
- St. John’s Wort Plant Care: How To Grow St. John’s Wort
- Can I Grow St. John’s Wort?
- How to Grow St. John’s Wort
- St John’s Wort Plant Uses
- Herb to Know: St. John’s Wort
- Propagation of St. John’s Wort
- Requirements for Growing St. John’s Wort and Care
- Harvesting and Storing
- Medicinal Properties and Uses of St. John’s Wort
- St John’s Wort
- The history and symbolism of St. John’s Wort
- Identifying St. John’s Wort
- How we source St. John’s Wort
- Herb at a glance
- Shrubby St. John’s wort
- Size & form
- Tree & Plant Care
- Disease, pests, and problems
- Disease, pest, and problem resistance
- Native geographic location and habitat
- Attracts birds, pollinators, or wildlife
- Bark color and texture
- Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture
- Flower arrangement, shape, and size
- Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions
- Cultivars and related species
- Related posts:
St. John’s Wort Seeds – Hypericum Perforatum Flower Seed
USDA Zones: 4 – 8
Height: 24 inches
Bloom Season: Summer
Bloom Color: Yellow
Environment: Full sun to partial shade
Soil Type: Well-drained, pH 5.8 – 7.2
Deer Resistant: Yes
Average Germ Time: 10 – 20 days
Light Required: Yes
Depth: Do not cover the seed but press into the soil
Sowing Rate: 3 – 4 seeds per plant
Moisture: Keep seeds moist until germination
Plant Spacing: 18 – 24 inches
Care & Maintenance: St. John’s Wort
St. John’s Wort (Hypericum Perforatum) – Start St. John’s Wort seeds to grow this short-lived perennial. St John’s Wort plant is a short, woody shrub that grows about 24 inches tall and has fragrant yellow flowers from mid to late summer. Hypericum St John’s Wort was apparently named after John the Baptist, and historically has been used to ward off evil spirits and witches. As an herb plant, the oil in the leaves have been used topically for wounds, sunburns, and general aches and pains. St John’s Wort herb has also been used to treat mild depression and insomnia with some success. St. John’s Wort ground cover is often used to cover areas along side walks and driveways.
How To Grow Hypericum From Seed: St. John’s Wort seeds are easy to grow. Plant the herb seeds indoors 6 – 8 weeks before the last frost, or outside after danger of frost has passed. Press the Hypericum seeds into the soil, but do not cover it as the seed will germinate better with light. Transplant the Hypericum seedlings when they are 2 – 3 inches tall. The plants will tolerate most any soil conditions but prefer moist and light soils. Fertilizer is only necessary in the poorest of soils, and water in prolonged drought times.
Connect With Us!
PHOTO: BiteYourBum.com/Flickrby Dawn Combs June 20, 2016
The St. John’s wort plant is steeped in legend, and I go weak in the knees for a plant with a reputation. To start with, I always wonder exactly what plant are we discussing? We find the St. John’s wort plant in the Hypericum genus, which contains more than 490 different species. While most of the genus tends to claim the common name, only one true St. John’s wort exists: Hypericum perforatum.
Hypericum perforatum appeared in the work of ancient healers and botanists, such as Theophrastus, Galen, Pliny, Dioscorides and Paracelsus. It has a very long history of being used to ward off the “evil eye” and protect against illness. This theme shows up in a number of religions from Ancient Greece through the Middle Ages. Before Christianity in England, the flowers were brought into the house on mid-summer’s eve. Later, as Christianity spread, the plant became associated with St. John the Baptist. Some claimed that the red spots on the leaves only appeared there after St. John was beheaded, and they believed that sleeping with a sprig of the plant under your pillow the night before the Feast of St. John’s would guarantee a vision and a blessing. Today, it is still traditional for herbalists to pick their St. John’s wort for medicine making on June 24 during this annual holy day.
With such an extensive history, it is little wonder that we are still talking about this small, unassuming plant today. All of this human association tells me that there is something special inside this plant that makes it worth our while to pass along generation to generation. In fact, St. John’s wort contains a few volatile oils and flavonoids. What is more interesting to the scientific community are hypericin and hyperforin, the two compounds that are most studied for mental health.
Planting St. John’s Wort
The first time I brought this plant home, I had the idea that it was meant to be tall. When it sprawled instead of standing I was worried that I had bought the wrong species. This is a common misconception. As the plant gets established, it often creeps and stays short. Once it gets its footing though, you can expect the plant to grow up to 3 feet tall.
St. John’s wort is an herbaceous perennial, hardy to zone 3. It has dark-green, oblong leaves that when held up to the light seem to contain evenly spaced, pin-prick translucent windows. These windows contain the oil for which this plant is famous. The flowers are bright yellow with reddish-purple spots in the throat. When rubbed between the fingers, this yellow flower will turn your fingers a deep maroon color. It likes to grow best from cuttings, which are made from the vigorously spreading rhizomes, though it will grow from seed.
St. John’s wort isn’t all that particular about the soil where it grows. It is much more interested in sun than anything else you might offer, so plant it somewhere that gets full sun. I have had the plant thrive in a very wet garden as well as in a very dry garden.
Harvesting St. John’s Wort
Whether you’re a traditionalist or not,the best time to harvest your St. John’s wort for its flowers is around June 24—at least in Ohio, where I live. If you’re hoping to use just the leaves you would harvest sometime in the two weeks that precedes that.
Leaves and Stems
If you are harvesting the leaves and stems, you will want to pick on a morning or evening, when the dew isn’t on and the sun isn’t at its peak. Clip the stem off about an inch above the ground and dry the entire stalk on a flat screen or hang it upside down.
If you are harvesting the flower it’s still a good idea to try a mid-morning or early evening timeframe for picking—I prefer mid-morning. Harvest the flower and the first inch or so of stem and leaf below, as all will contain the oil you’re wanting for your remedies. In a perfect world, the flowers you choose will be unopened. This is a bit tricky and just takes time and practice to see. As the flower develops it will get more intensely yellow and more full. Just before it opens is the optimal time to pick. Don’t worry though if the bunch of flowers you pick contains both unopened and opened flowers—it will be just fine.
Using Your Harvest
St. John’s wort isn’t really a food plant—it doesn’t cross over into the “food as medicine” category very well. If you want to harvest the plant, and you aren’t just looking for a pretty bouquet, chances are you are making it into some sort of remedy.
The most popular preparation method is St. John’s wort oil, which is used topically. The leaves and/or flowers are infused in a carrier oil, such as olive or sesame oil—the process is magical! As the herb infuses, a red volatile oil is pulled out of the yellow flowers and turns the carrier oil blood red. It is just about the prettiest formula I make each year, and I wouldn’t be without it.
If you wish to use St. John’s wort internally, it can be made into a tea or tincture with either fresh or dried herb.
Healing With St. John’s Wort
St. John’s wort is anti-inflammatory that can be used topically for wounds, bruises, varicose veins, sore muscles and mild burns. I have two favorite topical uses for this plant: for sunburn and for nerve damage from disease or blunt-force trauma. Also, when rubbed behind the ear on a daily basis, it can help to repair the nerves that have been damaged in some hearing issues.
St. John’s wort is also an antibacterial, antimicrobial, antiviral and nervine. Internally it is a superstar with the nervous system. It is a pain reliever and an emotional stabilizer. One of the main uses of the plant has been as a natural solution for depression. The two components hypericin and hyperfolin are the active ingredients in most of the clinical studies.
Are There Any Concerns?
St. John’s wort got a bit of a black eye some years ago when people became concerned that the plant acted as an MAO inhibitor, but this was shown not to be the case in a follow-up study. There is some evidence that St. John’s wort can interfere with serotonin levels for those taking selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, so avoid St. John’s wort if you are on such a medication.
The only other concern with the plant is really more about some of the other species on the genus. It appears that some of them, when heavily grazed by cattle, can cause photosensitivity in the animals. However, it hasn’t been shown to increase the danger of sunburn in people using the plant in appropriate doses.
My St. John’s wort plants have a place of honor in my medicine wheel garden. In some areas of the country, the plant is considered a weed and is pulled and sprayed with little awareness of the magic and history that it contains. If you are in such an area, consider yourself lucky, and while you manage your “weeds,” be sure to make yourself a little magic, as well.
St. John’s Wort Plant Care: How To Grow St. John’s Wort
St. John’s wort (Hypericum spp.) is a pretty little shrub with cheery yellow flowers that have a burst of long, showy stamen in the center. The blossoms last from midsummer until fall, and they are followed by colorful berries. St. John’s wort plant care is a snap, so let’s find out how easy it is to grow these delightful shrubs.
Can I Grow St. John’s Wort?
If you live in USDA plant hardiness zones 5 or 6 to 10 and have a partially shaded site, you can probably grow St. John’s wort. The plant isn’t particular about the soil type. It grows well in sand, clay, rocky soil or loam, and tolerates acidic to slightly alkaline pH.
St. John’s wort adapts to both moist and dry soil, and even tolerates occasional flooding. It also withstands drought but grows best with irrigation during prolonged dry spells. You won’t find a plant that will thrive in more situations.
How to Grow St. John’s Wort
Growing St. John’s wort herb in a location with too
much sun can lead to leaf scorch, while too much shade reduces the number of flowers. The best location is one with bright morning sunlight and a little shade in the hottest part of the afternoon.
If your soil isn’t particularly fertile, prepare the bed before transplanting. Spread about 2 inches of compost or rotted manure over the area and dig it in to a depth of at least 8 inches. Transplant the shrubs into the garden, setting them at the height at which they grew in their containers. They grow only 1 to 3 feet tall with a spread of 1.5 to 2 feet, so space them 24 to 36 inches apart. Water slowly and deeply after planting and keep the soil moist until the transplants are well-established.
St John’s Wort Plant Uses
St. John’s wort makes an attractive ground cover and soil stabilizer. Once established, the plants need no care, and this makes them ideal for out-of-the-way locations. You can also use it as an edging or to mark boundaries and pathways where you don’t want to obstruct the view. Other uses include containers, rock gardens and foundation plantings.
The species plants self-seed and can become weedy, particularly common St. John’s wort (H. perforatum). Ornamental cultivars are well-behaved plants that aren’t likely to grow out of control. Here are a few cultivars you might want to try:
- H. x moserianum ‘Tricolor’ – This cultivar is noted for its variegated foliage with a rainbow of color that includes red, pink, cream and green.
- H. frondosum ‘Sunburst’ – This is one of the cultivars that can take winter temperatures down to zone 5. It forms a bushy mound up to 2 feet in diameter.
- The Hypearls series includes the cultivars ‘Olivia’, ‘Renu’, ‘Jacqueline’ and ‘Jessica.’ This series is one of the best for hot climates.
- H. calycinum ‘Brigadoon’ – The flowers on this cultivar aren’t as conspicuous as some of the others, but it has chartreuse foliage that turns golden orange in bright sun.
By: Gabe Garms
A good indicator of the arrival of summer here in the Pacific Northwest is when the roadsides begin to pop with the bright yellow flowers of Hypericum perforatum, also known as St. John’s wort. It’s an introduced species here in the United States and grows throughout most of the country. Hypericum loves human disturbance and tends to grow near edges, such as roadsides and open lots and meadows, where you’ll typically find it in abundance. Many consider it a noxious weed, but hopefully after reading this article, you’ll see that it truly is a magical plant.
When harvesting wild plants for medicine, the first and most important thing to consider before you begin is that you’re harvesting the correct plant. There are other lookalike plants that grow amongst Hypericum in the wild that can be toxic if ingested. So before I dive into the magic that is this herb, let’s first learn how to identify it correctly.
If you look at the picture to the top right, you’ll notice the flowers are bright yellow, have 5 petals and numerous stamens bursting from the center. In the second picture, notice that the leaves are growing off of the stem opposite of one another and will occasionally have little red specks on the underside (the red specks are the active ingredient – hypericin). Now look at the third picture and notice that if you hold a leaf up into the light, there are numerous little transparent holes (hence the name perforatum – which is latin for perforated). So now that we’ve correctly identified Hypericum perforatum, now let’s get into all of the fun stuff.
While this herb is incredibly medicinal, it deserves much respect and can hurt you just as easily as it can heal you. Before I get into it’s medicinal uses, I feel it’s important to state that you shouldn’t take Hypericum if you’re taking any kind of pharmaceutical drugs. While it doesn’t negatively interact with all pharmaceuticals, I would recommend playing it safe and not risk mixing them together. It should also be avoided by people who are bi-polar or experiencing any kind of psychosis. I’ve seen someone take it with a form of psychosis and it likely magnified this person’s condition. Also review the dosages section below before you begin to use this herb.
The main active constituent (ingredient) in Hypericum perforatum is a red compound called hypericin. It’s taken medicinally as either an oil or a tincture (I discuss how to make both towards the end of the article) and it’s used to treat the following:
- Back pain – The oil is used topically to treat pain caused by nerve damage. Specifically, it’s great for back pain (ie sciatica nerve damage).
- Depression – The tincture is used to treat a fleeting bout of depression – caused by a loss or a sudden change in your life. I’ve found that herbs like motherwort and wild rose are much safer alternatives for prolonged use and for children. But I have seen Hypericum work many times for people who are feeling down.
- Retroviruses such as HIV and Herpes – The oil can be applied to cold sores and the tincture is used to treat both viruses. There are quite a few scholarly articles (search Hypericum perforatum on google scholar) out there about the effectiveness of this herb in the treatment of both HIV and HSV. I also have a friend who has seen it work with a family member.
- Attention Deficit Disorder – Since it strengthens and rejuvenates the central nervous system, it eases the anxiety associated with ADD by bringing you back into balance. I have ADD myself and Hypericum tincture has worked great for me at times when I need to focus.
- Tonic for the Central Nervous System – The tincture helps rejuvenate, strengthen and restore function to the CNS. However, it should only be taken for a short time. For long term strengthening of the CNS, I personally use oatstraw as an infusion. I’ll write an article about oatstraw this coming fall when it comes time to harvest.
- Sunscreen – The oil is applied to the skin. Many different commercial sunscreens are being linked with cancer, and hypericum is a natural, safe and effective alternative.
- Pollinator attractor – Hypericum has been documented to attract numerous pollinator insects.
June is the best time to harvest the plant, which is why I wanted to post this article now. You want to harvest the top third of the flowering plant (flowers, stems and leaves), and to ensure that you’re getting the most medicinally potent plants, you’ll want to perform the crush test (this test also helps with identification). Simply take a couple flowers/buds and crush them between your index finger and thumb. If a distinct red stain is left behind (see picture to the right), that means it’s loaded with hypericin and you’ve found a great plant to harvest. After hypericum has been in flower for awhile, it loses it’s potency and doesn’t stain when crushed. So if you’re looking to make the most potent medicine, the crush test is a good habit to get into before the harvest.
Just as Hypericum loses it’s potency after it’s been in flower for awhile, it also becomes significantly less potent when it’s dried. Because of this, it’s not very useful as a tea and is most effective as either an oil (to be applied topically) or as a tincture.
To make the oil, fill a mason jar with fresh plant material (see picture above right), and fill the jar with olive oil almost to the top. Now cover the jar with a paper towel and secure it with a rubber band. This method is recommended because you want to allow the moisture that the freshly picked plant releases to escape the jar. If you seal the jar with a metal lid, the trapped moisture can ruin your oil. Let the oil sit for 4-6 weeks in a cool, dark place and then filter the plant material out. The oil stays good for 1-2 years.
To make the tincture, pack the jar with fresh plant material and add 80-100 proof grain alcohol almost to the top (I typically use unflavored vodka). Now seal the jar with a metal or plastic lid and store in a cool, dark place for 6 weeks. Shake the jar once per day for the first couple of weeks. Filter out the plant material and store in a dark colored bottle. The tincture stays good for 5+ years.
I was recently listening to a podcast by one of my favorite herbalists, Jim McDonald, and he said something pretty profound regarding tincture dosages. He said that the correct dosage is the minimum amount of the herb that it takes to cure the ailment. So while some herbalists recommend taking 20 drops of the tincture 2-3 times per day, Jim instead recommends taking 5 drops at a time more frequently throughout the day. I have been trying this with my own tincture intake and I’ve definitely noticed a difference. So with Hypericum you can either take 20-30 drops 2-3 times per day or 5 drops more frequently throughout the day. But remember not to take it for long periods of time and start slow. What I mean by that is to start your dosages on the small side (5 drops or so) to see how your body reacts before you increase your dosage.
So hopefully you’ve learned a thing or two about an herb which is probably growing on or near your property. As you get to know it, give it the respect that it deserves and it will become a great ally. Thanks for reading!
DISCLAIMER: I am not a doctor and the above information is solely meant for educational purposes. For medical advice, please consult a medical healthcare professional.
Herb to Know: St. John’s Wort
Other beliefs about the protective power of St.-John’s-wort persisted. For example, sleeping with a piece of the herb under the pillow on St. John’s Eve would ensure the saint’s blessing and protection from dying during the coming year. Welsh families predicted life expectancies by hanging a sprig for each member and noting the next day how shriveled the leaves were.
The history of St.-John’s-wort as a medicinal herb has ancient roots. Another common name was amber touch-and-heal, and early English herbalists esteemed it as a treatment for deep sword cuts and other wounds. According to the “doctrine of signatures”, the oil glands in the leaves resembled pores in the skin, suggesting that the herb must be good for healing skin problems. The red oil extracted from the flowers by soaking them in olive or other vegetable oil was used externally to treat burns, neuralgia, hard tumors, caked breasts, bruises, and sciatica.
The herb has been taken internally to treat cancer, rabies, gout, arthritis, respiratory and gastrointestinal ailments, menstrual cramps, and nervous disorders. Reputed to be a diuretic, it also has been and continues to be prescribed to cure bedwetting.
American Indians used H. perforatum and other hypericums to treat a wide range of ills. For example, the Cherokee used H. perforatum to reduce fever, promote menstruation, and treat diarrhea, nosebleed, venereal disease, and snakebite; they washed their babies with an infusion of the roots to make them strong. The Fox and Menominee used the related H. ascyron in a tuberculosis remedy.
Present-day herbalists consider St.-John’s-wort a relaxing restorative and prescribe it for insomnia, depression, and unpleasant symptoms associated with menopause. The oil is applied externally to relieve the pain of neuralgia and promote the healing of burns, bruises, and hemorrhoids, and is taken internally for intestinal disorders.
A number of studies in the past decade have suggested that St.-John’s-wort has some antidepressant effect. Extracts of St.-John’s-wort have been shown to inhibit the growth of the bacterium that causes tuberculosis. Other studies have confirmed anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, and antispasmodic activity. The hopes that St.-John’s-wort might be a cure for cancer and a treatment of aids apparently have not been fulfilled. The principal active constituent is hypericin, the red pigment in the oil.
Despite its long history and current use in Europe as a healing herb, St.-John’s-wort has been judged unsafe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. When the herb is taken internally, the hypericin can sensitize nerve endings to sunlight, causing dermatitis when the skin is subsequently exposed to the sun. In some individuals, this photosensitivity can be activated merely by touching the plant, as it can with rue.
St.-John’s-wort doesn’t hold a prominent place in the kitchen, except perhaps in arrangements of cut flowers. The tops can be made into a beverage tea that is somewhat bitter and astringent, and the flowers have been used to flavor mead (a fermented beverage that contains honey) and vermouth.
The red pigment has been used as a dyestuff for silk and wool. The flowers yield a deep violet-red dye. Using a tin mordant produces an orange-red, and an alum mordant gives yellow. The stems yield a brown dye with alum.
St. John’s wort is hardy to USDA Zone 3 and also grows well in the South. It thrives in poor to average soil and is not particular as to soil pH. Plant it in full sun or part shade. Seeds germinate best if not covered; just press them into moist soil. Plants will spread of their own accord, or you can increase them faster by rooting stem cuttings or taking root divisions.
Not Growing It
In some parts of the world, ranchers would just as soon St.-John’s-wort didn’t increase at all. The same photosensitivity reaction following ingestion of St.-John’s-wort mentioned above has killed or injured millions of grazing animals, particularly light-colored ones, in the western United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. St.-John’s-wort is thus considered “one of the most toxic pasture weeds in New Zealand”. (In the West, it is known as Klamath weed because it appeared in California near the Klamath River about 1900.) It aggressively takes over rangelands, especially those that have been overgrazed.
Even though animals do not relish the herb, they eat it if they are hungry enough. Shedding of the wool or hair, swelling of the face, loss of appetite, blindness, and death from starvation may follow. Efforts to eliminate St.-John’s-wort have included plowing it under, repeated mowing, and herbicides, but the only effective control has been the introduction of two European species of beetle whose only food plant is H. perforatum. While the beetles seem to keep the plants in check, they don’t keep the species from spreading to new areas and driving out native species. In Colorado, St.-John’s-wort grew for years in one restricted site, nibbled on by one of the species of beetle, but recently plants have been discovered elsewhere in the state, and St.-John’s-wort now shows signs of becoming a major pest.
St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum) is an easy plant to both grow and care for. It is mainly grown for its medicinal properties but also for ornamental purposes due to the plant’s beautiful flowers.
The plant is a hardy perennial and has a shrub-like appearance with a protruding stamen that is surrounded by bright yellow flower petals. It is generally in bloom around the midsummer, and the blossoming goes on up to fall.
Propagation of St. John’s Wort
St. John’s wort is most commonly propagated by seeds or stem cuttings, but it can also be done by root divisions.
It should not be planted too close to other plants as it tends to smother other plants out. Grow St. John’s wort in an isolated part of the garden or a flower pot or appropriate container.
Growing St. John’s wort by seeds: St. John’s wort can be propagated in more or less the same manner in which most plant species are propagated by sowing seeds at a preferred planting location.
One of the most effective yet simple method for propagating St. John’s wort by seeds is surface sowing. As the name suggests, this propagation method requires the seeds to be pressed into the soil without covering them. If the seeds are left uncovered, they will germinate faster due to the exposure to light.
To speed up the growing process, the seeds can be sowed in pots or other appropriate containers indoors 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost, and then the young seedlings can be transplanted outdoors when they are 2 – 3 inches (5 to 8 cm) tall.
If the St. John’s Wort seeds are sown directly in the garden it should be done in the spring or summer, up until two months before the first frost.
To accelerated the seeds’ germination, they can be soaked in warm water for a few hours or overnight.
Growing St. John’s wort by stem cuttings: Another standard method of propagating St. John’s wort is through the use of a stem cutting. A stem cutting is simply a portion of the stem that has been obtained from a fully grown plant.
The stem cutting should be obtained from a healthy, pest-free plant and it should have one or more buds on it. They should be 5 to 10 cm (2 to 4 inches) long, and the leaves should be removed from the lower half.
Plant the stem cuttings in containers or pots filled with the appropriate growing medium, usually free-draining compost, so the cuttings can develop roots.
After planting the cutting should be kept moist, often with the help of a propagator or by covering the containers with a transparent plastic film or bags.
Usually, the stem cuttings root faster if the lower end is dipped in a hormone rooting liquid or powder.
The young cuttings should be stored in a place with plenty of light but away from direct sunlight until they root. The cuttings can be replanted outdoors when they have filled their containers with roots.
Growing St. John’s wort by root division: Like most perennial plants, St. John’s wort can be propagated by root division.
To divide an established plant, it should be dug up in early spring just as it is emerging from its winter dormancy. The root clump should be separated into two equally sized parts which then can be replanted either in pots or directly in the garden. The plant should be watered immediately after replanting.
Requirements for Growing St. John’s Wort and Care
St.John’s wort is not a demanding plant and does not have many requirements to be able to grow, but still, there are several specific conditions that are ideal for the plant to thrive and look beautiful.
Soil: St. John’s wort can grow in a variety of soil types but grows best in well-drained, moderately moist, sandy and slightly acidic soil.
Fertilizer is rarely needed when growing St. John’s wort and only if the soil is of very poor quality. However, compost can be used before planting.
Sun: The plant thrives best half sun or semi shade. The ideal location is where it get access to the bright morning sun and where it gets some shade from the intense afternoon sunlight.
If the plant is exposed to too much sun, the leaves can become scorched while too much shade will result in fewer flowers produced.
Water: St. John’s wort thrives best if watered regularly and the soil is kept evenly moist. A layer of mulch can be placed around the base of the plant to preserve moisture. If it is grown in pots or containers, it might need some extra watering.
A fully grown plant can survive drought, but it does not tolerate over-watering.
Pests and Diseases: St. Johns wort is not prone to either pest or diseases, but it can happen.
The most common ones are the Klamath beetle (Chrysolina beetle) that feeds on the plant and the fungal disease anthracnose which shows up on the plant as rusty leaves and stems.
If the plant becomes infected, an insecticide or fungicide can be used, or the plant can be removed from the garden to prevent the infection from spreading to other plants.
Pruning: If the plant is not harvested regularly for medicinal purposes it might require occasional pruning.
It should be done in early spring (late winter) before the first buds arrive as this encourages flowering.
Harvesting and Storing
St. John’s wort should only be harvested a year from its first flowering. In the second and following years, the plant should be allowed to flower before harvesting, usually in June or July.
Around one-third of the plant (flowers, stalks, and leaves) can be cut without causing permanent damage.
The plant material can be dried for later use by hanging the stems, with the leaves and flowers still attached, in a cold, dry and dark place for 7 to 10 days.
To speed up the drying process, the plant material can be placed on a cookie sheet in a warm oven (40 to 50 °C/100-120 °F ) for an hour. Alternatively, a commercial dehydrator can be used.
When the herb is adequately dried, it should be placed in a clean airtight container and stored in a cool, dry, and dark place.
Medicinal Properties and Uses of St. John’s Wort
St. John’s wort has been used as a medicinal herb for a long time, and it is best known for its sedative and anti-depressant effect.
Also, it is believed to have diuretic, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and antispasmodic properties.
The dried flowers can be used in tea and tincture making. The herb is also commonly available commercially in tablet, capsules and tincture form.
Related Products You May be Interested in
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from Vitalite Now
The Herbal Resource may receive a small commission from sales of specific product (but at the same price to you).
Learn More About the Health Benefits and Uses of St.John’s Wort
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Thor Sturluson has a BS in Biology, majoring in Botany, from the University of Maine and a masters degree in Zoology from the Open University in London. He’s an experienced Biologist with a history of working in the environmental services industry. A trained scuba diver and researcher, Thor’s has a keen interest in nature conservation and animal/plant protection. His work and botany passion has made The Herbal Resource what it is.
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St. John’s Wort, Hypericum perforatum is a shrubby perennial plant with cheery bright yellow flowers.
It is native to Europe and Asia, ancient times brought fame to the St. John’s Wort plants because of the discovery of a fluorescent red pigment, named hypericin that oozes from the crushed flowers.
St. John’s Wort has a long history of herbal use. It fell out of favour in the nineteenth century but recent research has brought it back to prominence as an extremely valuable remedy for depression.
The most notable feature of St. John’s wort is the presence of wide bright yellow flowers. The flowers consist of five petals surrounding a dense tuft of protruding yellow stamens that resemble an old fashioned shaving brush. The flowers are borne in groups and appear from July through August
Reddish-brown fruit capsules ripen in September and persist well into the winter.
Sowing: Sow in early/late spring and late summer/autumn.
Seeds can be sown indoors 4 to 5 weeks before last frost in pots, or sow directly into the garden after danger of serious frost has passed. They can also be sown directly where they are to grow in the autumn or spring before the last frost.
Surface sow in pots or trays containing good seed compost. Seeds require light to germinate, press into soil, do not cover. Keep the compost moist but not too wet. Seeds germinate in 14 to 30 days at temperatures of 16 to 24˚C (60 to 75˚F)
Transplant the seedlings when large enough to handle into larger pots to grow on. Transplant into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Plant 20 to 30cm (8 to12in) apart in full sun or partial shade. Water the new plants weekly throughout its first summer, until they are established.
St. John’s wort is so easy to grow that you may find it thriving wild in a meadow or ditch near you. If you wish to cultivate it in the garden, keep a close watch over it. Given a chance, it’ll crowd out more delicate herbs. You may even want to consider growing it in a pot and then burying the pot in the soil to overwinter in cold areas.
In the second and subsequent years, wait for blossoms to appear in July, and then harvest around a third of the plant, including flowers. Dry leaves and flowers by hanging stems in a cool, dry, dark place for a week to 10 days, or hasten drying with a dehydrator or on a baking sheet in a warm oven.
St. John’s wort has been used in the treatment for depression since ancient times. It has received a lot of press for being a mood regulator that may have the efficacy of an antidepressant without some of the side effects. After dozens of studies, over 30 at last count, the jury is still out on claims that St. John’s wort can be used as an effective treatment for depression. Current popular opinion is that it may be useful when dealing with mild to moderate depression like seasonal mood disorder.
St. John’s wort is a complex little plant containing a dozen or more chemical compounds that may (or may not) impact brain chemistry or possibly regulate hormone levels in the body. Before you give it a try, though, there are some cautions you should consider carefully:
People taking St. John’s wort have reported side effects and one of the most troubling side effects of St. John’s wort is that it interferes with other drugs. If you’re taking high cholesterol medication, birth control pills or any of a number of other drugs, St. John’s wort can potentially reduce their effectiveness. Before you make a decision about taking this herb, talk to a professional. It may be a boon and just what you’re looking for; then again, it may be the last thing you need.
Beyond its applications for the treatment of mood disorders, St. John’s wort has also been used to treat pain, nerve damage, insomnia, inflammation, as a diuretic and to promote the healing of bruises, burns and lacerations.
St John’s Wort is a perennial native to Europe and Asia. It can be found primarily in right-of-ways, roadsides, meadows, dry pastures, rangelands, fields, open woods, waste places and disturbed ground. It has been introduced to many temperate areas of the world and has naturalised in places as far flung as Canada, South Africa, California, Colorado, Arizona and Australia.
The genus name Hypericum is derived from the Greek words hyper meaning ’above’ and eikon, meaning ‘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 leaves which have a ‘perforated’ appearance. The presence of small oil glands in the leaves that look like windows, which can be seen when they are held against the light. Because of this, one of its common names is Perforate St John’s Wort.
St. John’s Wort is believed to have been named after St. John the Baptist although the common name comes from its traditional flowering and harvesting on St John’s day, 24 June.
Other names include Common St. Johnswort, Klamath weed, common goatweed, tipton weed
St John’s Wort
Posted on: September 20, 2018
St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum) is in the Hypericaceae family. There are over 300 species of the Hypericum genus throughout the world, but this is considered the official plant and the one most commonly used in herbalism. Native to Eurasia and North Africa, this plant most likely came to North America in the 1700s.
The history and symbolism of St. John’s Wort
The budding and flowering tops of this plant have been used for centuries, and it is said that Benedictine monks named it after St. John the Baptist, as it flowers around June 24, St. John’s Day. St. John’s Wort helps to promote a positive mood and emotional balance.* It has a long history of use, and it is an ingredient in many of Herb Pharm’s products.*
St. John’s Wort has a beautiful and unique relationship with the sun. Its seeds contain phytochrome, a photoreceptor that prohibits germination unless the seed is exposed to light. If you are trying to grow St. John’s Wort at home, be sure to gently tamp the seeds into the surface of the soil instead of covering them so that germination is more likely. As St. John’s Wort flowers around the summer solstice, it is also a symbol of the beginning of summer.
Identifying St. John’s Wort
If you lift a leaf of St. John’s Wort and backlight with the sun, you will see an array of dots that look like perforations, hence the species name perforatum. These are actually tiny oil glands. The darker spots closer to the leaf margins contain hypericin, a constituent of this plant, and they are very much a distinguishing characteristic. You will see red spots of hypericin along the yellow petals of the inflorescence (cluster of flowers), as well as at the tip of the stamens. Squeezing a fresh flower bud will produce a bright red, resinous pigment that is a great indicator that you are dealing with high-quality Hypericum perforatum.
How we source St. John’s Wort
Herb Pharm’s fresh St. John’s Wort is responsibly wildcrafted in the Siskiyou and Cascade mountains around our farm in southern Oregon. These plants prefer compacted soils that were once shaded by forests, and they reclaim these areas as they soak up the sun. St. John’s Wort is classified as an invasive species in some states (including Oregon), and it’s interesting to note that it often appears in places that have been disturbed by human activity, such as roadsides and clearcuts, although we do not harvest from these locations.
Herb at a glance
Botanical name: Hypericum perforatum
Common name(s): St. John’s Wort
Plant family: Hypericaceae
Native habitat: Eurasia and North Africa
Parts used: flowering top
Botanical description: Clusters of small yellow flowers; leaves have dots that look like perforations
Use(s): promotes positive mood & healthy emotional balance*
Flavor profile: mildly balsamic, slightly bitter
Shrubby St. John’s wort
Size & form
A mounded, 3 to 4 feet high and wide shrub with stiff erect stems.
Tree & Plant Care
Best in full sun to part shade.
Adaptable to most soil pH, including heavy clay.
Flowers on new wood, prune in spring.
Can be short-lived in wet winters.
Disease, pests, and problems
Disease, pest, and problem resistance
Drought, clay, rabbit and deer resistant, tolerant of aerial salt spray.
Native geographic location and habitat
Eastern U. S. including IL, IA NJ, and GA.
Attracts birds, pollinators, or wildlife
Birds, butterflies and bees.
Bark color and texture
Young twigs are slender, gray and ridged, older stems exfoliate exposing a bronzy inner bark.
Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture
Opposite, linear to lanceolate, 4 inches long and 1/2 inch wide bright green leaves.
Very short petiole with leaf-like bracts at base of the leaves.
Flower arrangement, shape, and size
Small, 3/4 to 1-inch wide yellow flowers with many showy stamens, borne in terminal or in stem axil in early summer.
Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions
A 3-chambered, upright, brown capsule, persistent throughout winter.
Albury Purple Tutsan (Hypericum androsaemum ‘Albury Purple’): Low mounding, 2 to 3 feet high and wide, rich velvety purple leaf tips, yellow flowers and attractive dark red fruit capsules.