(Hypericum perforatum) St. John's-wort family

Flowers - Bright yellow, 1 in. across or less, several or many in

terminal clusters. Calyx of 5 lance-shaped sepals; 5 petals

dotted with black; numerous stamens in 3 sets 3 styles. Stem: to

2 ft. high, erect, much branched. Leaves: Small, opposite,

oblong, more or less black-dotted.

Preferred Habitat - Fields, waste lands, roadsides.

Flowering Season - June-September.

Distribution - Throughout our area, except the extreme North;

Europe, and Asia.

"Gathered upon a Friday, in the hour of Jupiter when he comes to

his operation, so gathered, or borne, or hung upon the neck, it

mightily helps to drive away all phantastical spirits." These are

the blossoms which have been hung in the windows of European

peasants for ages on St. John's eve, to avert the evil eye and

the spells of the spirits of darkness. "Devil chaser" its Italian

name signifies. To cure demoniacs, to ward off destruction by

lightning, to reveal the presence of witches, and to expose their

nefarious practices, are some of the virtues ascribed to this

plant, which superstitious farmers have spared from the scythe

and encouraged to grow near their houses until it has become,

even in this land of liberty, a troublesome weed at times. "The

flower gets its name," says F. Schuyler Mathews, "from the

superstition that on St. John's day, the 24th of June, the dew

which fell on the plant the evening before was efficacious in

preserving the eyes from disease. So the plant was collected,

dipped in oil, and thus transformed into a balm for every wound."

Here it is a naturalized, not a native, immigrant. A blooming

plant, usually with many sterile shoots about its base, has an

unkempt, untidy look; the seed capsules and the brown petals of

withered flowers remaining among the bright yellow buds through a

long season. No nectar is secreted by the St. John's-worts,

therefore only pollen collectors visit them regularly, and

occasionally cross-fertilize the blossoms, which are best

adapted, however, to pollinate themselves.

The SHRUBBY ST. JOHN'S-WORT (H. prolificum) bears yellow

blossoms, about half an inch across, which are provided with

stamens so numerous, the many flowered terminal clusters have a

soft, feathery effect. In the axils of the oblong, opposite

leaves are tufts of smaller ones, the stout stems being often

concealed under a wealth of foliage. Sandy or rocky places from

New Jersey southward best suit this low, dense, diffusely

branched shrub which blooms prolifically from July to September.

Farther north, and westward to Iowa, the GREAT or GIANT ST.

JOHN'S-WORT (H. Ascyron) brightens the banks of streams at

midsummer with large blossoms, each on a long footstalk in a

few-flowered cluster.

COMMON SPEEDWELL FLUELLIN PAUL'S BETONY GROUNDHELE CREEPING DALIBARDA facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail