St John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum) also known as known as perforate St John’s-wort, common Saint John’s wort is a flowering plant in the family Hypericaceae.
It is native to Europe, northern Africa, and western Asia. It is now also found in North America.
The flower occurs in prairies, pastures, and disturbed fields. It prefers sandy soils.
The plant is used in herbal medicine as a treatment for depression, and there is some limited clinical evidence of its efficacy.
The plant is poisonous to grazing animals.
St John’s wort is a herbaceous perennial plant.
This plant can grow to 1 meter (3 ft 3 in) high.
It has opposite and stalkless leaves that are narrow and oblong in shape and 1 to 2 cm (0.4 to 0.8 in) long. Leaves borne on the branches subtend the shortened branchlets. The leaves are yellow-green in color, with scattered translucent dots of glandular tissue.
The flowers measure up to 2.5 cm (1 in) across, have five petals and sepals, and are colored bright yellow with
conspicuous black dots.
When flower buds (not the flowers themselves) or seed pods are crushed, a reddish/purple liquid is produced.
St John’s wort symbolizes protection and rebirth. It is also often associated with cheerfulness and inspiration.
The common name “St John’s wort” may be used to refer to any species of the genus Hypericum. Therefore, Hypericum perforatum is sometimes called “common St John’s wort” or “perforate St John’s wort” to differentiate it.
St John’s wort is named as such because it commonly flowers, blossoms and is harvested at the time of the summer solstice in late June, around St John’s Feast Day on 24 June.
The genus name Hypericum is possibly derived from the Greek words hyper (above) and eikon (picture), in reference to the tradition of hanging plants over religious icons in the home during St John’s Day.
The specific epithet perforatum is Latin, referring to the perforated appearance of the plant’s leaves.
St. John’s wort has been used as a popular herbal folk remedy for centuries.
The red, oily extract of this plant has been used in the treatment of wounds for millennia, including by the KnightsHospitaller, the Order of St John, after battles in the Crusades, which is most likely where the name came from.
Writings since the Middle Ages have described using St. John’s wort as treatment for inflammation, injuries, burns, muscle pain, anxiety, high blood pressure, stomach problems, fluid retention, insomnia , hemorrhoids, cancer, and depression.
The leaves and flowers of St. John’s wort are both used. St. John’s wort is available as pills, capsules, extracts, dried herbs for tea, and oil infusions for skin applications. It is one of the best-selling herbal medicines in the world!
St. John’s wort can interfere with the effects of many prescription medicines.