St. John'swort


Sumner, United States

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St. John’swort at the North Woods Park near my home in northeast Iowa. USA

Hypericum perforatum (Common St. Johnswort)
Plant Info Also known as: Klamath-weed
Genus: Hypericum
Family: Hypericaceae (St. John’s-wort)
Life cycle: perennial

Habitat: sun; fields, roadsides, woodland edges, disturbed soil
Bloom season: June – September
Plant height: 1 to 3 feet

Flower: Flower shape: 5-petals Cluster type: flat
Flowers are about 1 inch across, 5 yellow petals with tiny black dots around the edges, and numerous long yellow-tipped stamens, which may also be dotted, exploding from the center. Each flower is usually on a short stalk, with many flowers branching off the top part of the plant.

Leaves and stems: Leaf attachment: opposite Leaf type: simple
Leaves are generally oval to oblong, 1 to 2 inches long, about ¼ inch wide, with rounded tips and no leaf stalk, oppositely attached. Most leaves have scattered tiny translucent dots; when held up to the light they give the impression the leaf is perforated (and is where the scientific name comes from). Stems are green, smooth and leafy.

Seed pod is a 3-sectioned capsule, about ¼ inch long, that turns deep reddish brown as it matures. Each section has a little “tail” at the top.

The dots on the leaves and petals are actually sacs of essential oils, used as an herbal remedy to treat everything from depression to infection. The black dots on the petals can dye your skin red when they’re crushed. Common St. John’s-wort can be quite invasive, forming dense colonies and crowding out native plants. Roadside infestations have become a common sight.

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