May 05, 2013
Hypericum perforatum (common name St. Johnswort) is a member of the Hypericaceae. It is a perennial (relatively long-lived) plant that can easily be recognized by its bright yellow flowers. It blooms near Summer solstice, thus derives its common name because it blooms near June 24th, the birthday of the Baptist St John (Sheahan, 2012). The word “wort” means “plant” in Old English. It has been associated with religion and witchcraft, and there are many mysteries about how the plant got its scientific name. One way the plant may have got its name is, Hypericum is said to come from the Greek word “hyperikon” which is broken down into hyper (meaning over), and eikon (meaning image). It was believed that the Greeks used the plant above religious images to drive off evil spirits. The Latin species name perforatum means hole, which refers to the translucent dots on the leaves that look like tiny holes. (Sheahan, 2012).When these dots are pressed they will release the plants essential oils.
The plant is native to Europe, western Asia, and North Africa (Sheahan, 2012).Today you can find the plant throughout United States. It was thought that European settlers brought the seeds here for their gardens because it was valued for its spiritual, medicinal and magical powers. It had escaped cultivation and spread along roadsides from Florida to Maine by the Revolutionary War(Crompton,1998) The plant goes back to many centuries, and is surrounded by mystical legends. Hypericum perforatum has been used for at least 2,400 years, from ancient civilizations in Greece, through pagan Europe and the Middle Ages, till today (Davies, 2012). The ancient Greeks used it for reptile bites, menstrual cramping, gastrointestinal distress, and depression. After it was brought to United States, Native Americans used it to treat diarrhea, wounds, and snakebites (Rees,1995). There were other records of it being used to drive off evil spirits, and offering protection against the devils temptations.
The plant is a flowering plant that can reproduce both sexually and asexually, and flowers are both pollinated and self-pollinated (Sheahan, 2012). During the asexual reproduction, the plant will create runners and rhizomes that will produce tiny root systems and shoot systems. The shoots will grow into replicas of the parent plant. During sexual reproduction, meiosis will take place and produce haploid cells. These haploid cells will go through mitosis to create pollen sacs and embryonic sacs. Pollination and fertilization will then begin when sperm travels through the pollen tube. Seeds are produced and kept inside the fruit. At least 15,000-30,000 seeds and plants are produced in one season, contributing to its potential for rapid spread (Crompton, 1998).The seeds can be transported by animals, humans and wind. The stems of this plant are erect, and appear rust colored, they are also woody and can grow anywhere from 30-120cm tall (Rees,1995). The leaves are yellow-green and have translucent dots throughout the tissue, and occasionally with a few black dots on the lower surface. These translucent dots are what contain the plants oils and resins. Its flowers are bright yellow with five petals; the flowers usually appear between late spring and early to mid-Summer. To identify the herb look for two longitudinal lines or ridges found along the edge of the stem which make it appear flat, when you squeeze the bright yellow flower petals they will bleed a reddish-purple liquid. It can be found most commonly found in grasslands, pastures, meadows, and rangelands. But it also occurs in forested areas in natural clearings, openings, or areas that have been disturbed by fire, logging, or road construction (Sheahan, 2012).
The plant has been used as a natural herbal remedy and can come in many forms such as capsules, teas, tablets, tinctures, and oil based skin lotions Chopped or powdered forms...
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