St Johns Wort
Approx. 10000 seeds per gram
Wort is an old English word used in the names of herbs and plants that had medicinal properties. St John’s wort is a part of the Hypericum family. The Perforatum part differentiates the herb from other types and refers to the translucent spots that can be seen on the underside of the leaf when held up to the light. You can also see the black dots along the edges leaf edges. St John’s wort is a short lived perennial plant. It grows to a range of heights and up to 1 m. The stems are multi branched. The leaves , which are a pale green, are in pairs along the stem with each leaf node branching again. The flowers appear in Summer in clusters at the end of the upper stems. The flowers are yellow with 5 petals and a delicate spray of stamens at the centre. The petals also have the tiny black dots along their edges. Bumble bees like the flower and collect pollen from it.
How to grow:
Sow seeds in autumn or spring in well prepared ground. Lightly cover with soil and keep watered if necessary. Thin seedlings to about 45 cm apart. Harvest flowers and leaves from June onward.
Pests and diseases:
There are not any major pests or diseases. In some places St John’s wort is considered a weed. It is not good for sheep, horses and cattle and so should be managed in pasture where these animals graze. In America three beetles that feed on St John’s wort have actually been introduced as a biological control.
How to use:
St John’s wort has been traditionally used to reduce pain, for skin complaints and nervous disorders, more recently there has been interest in it’s potential to help fight depression. There are, however, a number of contra-indications to its use and should be prescribed only by a medical herbalist.