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
- Additional Information
Packet Size 500mg Average Seed Count 500 Seeds Common Name Wildflower of Britain and Ireland Other Common Names Common St. Johnswort, Goatweed Family Hypericaceae Genus Hypericum Species perforatum Hardiness Hardy Biennial Flowers Bright yellow Height 60cm (24in) Position Full sun preferred Time to Sow Sow in early//late spring and late summer/autumn.