Dwarf St. Johnswort – Hypericum mutilum

hypericum graveolens_0

Dwarf St. Johnswort (Hypericum mutilum) belongs to the  St. Johnwort family

Wort is the Middle English word for plant.  The plant blooms in June and July and long ago, in England, its flowers were collected, soaked in oil to yield a reddish liquid, and used in the celebration and festivities of St. John’s Day which falls on June 24th, hence the name St. John’s plant.

Long known for the extracts of this plant to aid in mild depression and insomnia, it has become a star in modern herbal medicine and marketed as a remedy for those problems.  The active chemical in the plant is hypericin and the thinking is that it inhibits serotonin re-uptake.  However, the medical establishment has conducted tests of St. John’s wort against placebos and found it to be ineffective.

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Hybrid St. John’s wort, purchased, on property.  It makes a very pretty show beginning to flower near the 24th of June, right on schedule.  The flowers are short-term bloomers so after a few days of blooming you will see blooms, spent blooms, and many buds.  This plant is used a lot in public landscapes because it is drought resistant and very easy care.

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Hypericum mitchellianum,  photographed on Mt.Mitchell – “I think!” In my research on this plant I discovered that the USDA plant data base has over a hundred entries for “Hypericum”.  I am not entirely sure that the above photograph is of Hypericum mitchelliamum, but confess that it is only a guess.  It could be the common St. Johnswort.

Neither am I absolutely certain that the plant that grows on the property and around this area is, indeed, Hypercum mutilum, again I am guessing, but I am also driving home the notion (I hope) that identification of plants is sometimes very difficult, as in this case.

The plant which grows in this area is between 1 and 2 feet tall, with several tender stalks and oval, opposite leaves, as in this photograph:

Hypericum punctatum_2

 Although I am not 100% certain that the plant is a dwarf St. Johnswort, it most definitely is a variety of St. Johnswort  with very small flowers- annual? Perennial?  Although you can almost count on its presence during the summer in Nantahala I would say it is an annual plant as it jumps about quite a bit.  It is also seen in sunny spots and roadsides.

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