Scientific Name: Hypericum perforatum
Common Name: common St. Johnís Wort (also called St. Johnswort)
Range: throughout the United States; found in fields, roadsides, edges of woods, meadows, and generally in sunny places
Origin: common St. Johnswort is native to Europe
Botanical description: St. Johnswort is a 1-3 foot perennial that has small oblong leaves dotted with translucent glands containing essential oils. The
flowers are yellow and abundant with stamens in a bushy cluster. Each flower has five petals with black dots on the margins. Flower petals are also dotted
with oil glands. St. Johnswort is difficult to identify when not flowering, but when in bloom the abundant star shaped yellow flowers are a giveaway.
Whatís in a name: Common St. Johnswort is said to have gotten its common name from the red resin that is contained in small, black glands in the flower
petals. In the Middle Ages, it was said that this was the bloodshed by St. John the Baptist when he was beheaded. The word wort is an old English word for
plant, and the species name peforatum comes from the Latin for hole.
All in the family: commonSt. Johnswort is a member of the Hypericaceae family, the St.Johnsworts. Other members of the family include great St. Johnswort, dwarf St. Johnswort, and pale St. Johnswort
Cultural uses: The flowers of the common St. Johnswort were traditionally used to make a tea, tincture or oil extraction for the treatment of external
ulcers, wounds, sore, cuts and bruises. The tea was also used for the treatment of bladder ailments, depression, dysentery, diarrhea, and worms.
Today, St. Johnswort is best known for its rediscovered anti-depressant activities. People use St. Johnswort in capsule and tea form to elevate their
moods. It is also an effective topical antibiotic and anti-inflammatory. St. Johnswort tea is also used as a tonic for the liver and gallbladder and to relieve the symptoms of menopause.
Active compounds: hypericin (the red resin), flavonoids, glycosides, tannin, essential oils, bioflavones, pseudohypericin, and volatile oils
Research: St. Johnswort is undoubtedly one of the most heavily researched herbal remedies. Research has verified its efficacy as an anti-depressant,
antibiotic and anti-inflammatory. Other studies have shown it as a potent anti-retroviral agent, making it a possible treatment for AIDS. It may also prove to be useful against other viral infections.
In lore, legend and life: St. Johnswort is a photosensitizer, meaning that people who are taking any form of St. Johnwort should avoid sun exposure or risk serious sunburn.
In Europe, St. Johnswort blooms and is gathered around June 25, St. Johnís day.
The red resin in the St. Johnswort is often called ďthe blood of ChristĒ.
Legend has it that the devil perforated the leaves and petals of St. Johnswort in an attempt to make it wither and die. The perforations, which are actually oil
glands, can be seen if the leaves or petals are held up to the light.