No matter how you spell it, St. Johns Wort, St. John’s Wort, St. Johns-wort, or St. Johnswort (Hypericum spp.), the plants in my yard are like a ray of sunshine with their pretty bright-yellow flowers blooming at this time of year. Hypericum is a member of the Clusiaceae Family. Most of the lower 48 states have at least one of the dozens of species in this genus listed as native to their area. It appears in various forms from ground cover to small wildflowers to thick shrubs.
Surprisingly, Common St. Johnswort (Hypericum perforatum), from which a supplement used as a homeopathic remedy is created, is an introduced species and is considered invasive or a noxious weed in many states. We here in Florida are lucky to not be invaded by this exotic with roots in Europe to central China, northern Africa and the western Himalayas. Florida can, however, boast 31 species (according to University of South Florida Institute for Systematic Botany’s Atlas of Florida Vascular Plants) as native to the State.
It is underutilized as a landscape plant, which to me makes little sense, since it comes in various shapes and sizes giving it great potential for many applications in the home landscape. Several species work as emergent wedlands plants, that are great pondside or in a rain garden, while others are perfect for drier or sandy soils. Some like full sun, while others are perfectly fine with varying degrees of shade.
These plants are great additions to attract wildlife, as bees and butterflies appreciate the nectar and pollen provided by the flowers. The Georgia Wildlife Federation reports that two species of St. Johnswort in their state H. frondosum and H. densiflorum are larval hosts for the Gray Hairstreak Butterfly, provide nectar and pollen for bees and that songbirds and game birds use seeds as a food source. H. densiflorum provides habitat and food for small mammals, birds and waterfowl, according to Calvert County, Maryland Department of Planning & Zoning Calvert County Native Plants; Recommended Trees and Shrubs.
Several species are recommended in Florida as great native alternatives to common invasive plants and I’m sure would fit the bill in your neck of the woods, as well. Given its extended range and versatility, its worth a look to see which species of this vast genus would fit your own gardening needs.
I spotted the seedling below out toward the pond this week. Although I won’t be sure until a flower blossoms, I’m hoping this is Sandweed a.k.a. Peelbark St. Johnswort (Hypericum fasciculatum) like I think it is. I’ll keep you posted.
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