Hypericum is a genus of more than 200 species of flowering plants in the family Hypericaceae, growing in the temperate regions of Europe, northern Africa, and the Middle East.
They have five-petalled, bright yellow flowers, with prominent stamens which are often united in bundles. These plants have been of scientific interest due to their widespread use in folk medicine. Many species are cultivated as ornamentals.
The genus name comes from the Greek word “hyper”, meaning “above” and “eikon”, meaning picture, in reference to the tradition of hanging plants over images, pictures or windows.
The common name “St. John’s wort” refers to John the Baptist, as the plant blooms around the time of the Feast of St. John the Baptist in late June. The plant was traditionally gathered and burned on midsummer’s eve (June 23), as a protection against evil spirits. This date was later christianized as the eve of the feast day of St. John the Baptist.
The term “wort” refers to the old English name for herb or plant.
Hypericum symbolizes protection and rebirth.
It is also often associated with cheerfulness and inspiration.
Interesting facts about Hypericum:
Common Saint John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum)
Hypericum perforatum, also known as Common Saint John’s wort, is the most medicinally important species of the Hypericum genus. It is one of the best-selling herbal medicines in the world!
The plant has anti-viral, anti-depressive and anti-cancer properties. Saint John’s wort has been used medicinally for hundreds of years for a variety of health issues. such as menstrual cramps, bladder ailments, dysentery, diarrhea, and worm ulcers. It has traditionally been used to treat burns, cuts, bruises and wounds. The plant is also known for its ability to fight depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), social phobia, and seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
This amazing plant has glands (tiny black spots) which are able to produce a blood-red oil. According to a legend, it originally grew under Jesus’s cross and that’s how it got its red color of its sap. St. John’s wort oil, commonly known as the “blood of Christ”, is a wonderful oil for massage because of its warming and relaxing effect.
However, you must be particularly careful with St. John’s wort, as it can do more harm than good. You should be aware that this plant can interact with other drugs.
Furthermore, the plant can be confused with other plants so be very careful when identifying!
Tutsan (Hypericum androsaemum)
Hypericum androsaemum, commonly known as Tutsan, is a small deciduous shrub that is native to Europe. The plant is cultivated extensively as an ornamental plant.
The yellow flowers are followed by distinct berries which turn from white to green, red and black. The black berries should not be eaten as they are poisonous!
Benefits and Uses
Hypericum species are well known for their medicinal properties and are widely used in phytotherapy.
Phytotherapy is a medical practice which uses plants in order to prevent or treat diseases.
Some species are used as ornamental plants because of their large, bright and beautiful flowers.
Annuals, Perennials, Shrubs, Trees
The flowers are generally yellow.
Spring, Autumn, Summer
Hypericum can reach a height between 30 cm (1 ft) and 2 m (7 ft), depending on species.
Hypericum grows best in moist and well drained soil that has a pH between 5.5 and 7.0.