Hypericum (hy-PERRI-cum), also known as St. John’s Wort is a genus of 400 flowering plants that can be found all over the world in a variety of habitats. Some are grown as annuals, perennials, shrubs, and small trees. They can be deciduous or evergreen. The foliage is a lush dark green.
Hypericum produces buttercup-like flowers with five petals in colours that range from pale to dark yellow. But as attractive as the flowers may be, in some places like farmlands, they are considered invasive weeds.
Gardeners love growing hypericum as ornamental plants because they are hardy and easy to grow. They can be planted in the sun or shade, as long as it has well-drained soil. While hypericums can grow in any soil condition, they do best in a slightly acid soil. Evergreen species would be ideal as shrub borders or container plants. The low-growing varieties would do well in rock gardens or as ground cover.
The flowers are undoubtedly beautiful, but the berries are more popular in the cut flower industry. Their clusters of ornamental berries, which come in red, brown, purple, pink, orange and white are commonly used as fillers. Florists use hypericum berries to add a burst of colour and texture to bouquets, centerpieces and other flower arrangements. They are available all year round, but tend to be especially popular during the winter season.
Fun flower facts about the hypericum:
- Other common names: goat weed, tipton weed, tutsan, Aaron’s beard
- Many butterfly species feed on hypericum, but it is the the only known food plant for the caterpillar of the Treble-bar, a species of moth
- common St. John’s wort has been used in traditional herbal medicine to relieve anxiety and depression, among other ailments
- hypericum is September’s birth flower
- during the Roman times, hypericum sprigs were placed as offerings on the statues of gods
- in the Middle Ages, hypericum has been used to ward off evil spirits
- the name hypericum comes from the Greek “hyperikon” “hyper” meaning over and “eikon” meaning image, which translates to “almost over ghosts,” referring to the mystical properties the plant was thought to have