Hypericum perforatum | ‘Common St John’s Wort’, ‘Perforate St John’s Wort’, ‘St John’s Wort’ | Seeds
Native to Asia and Europe, the flowering herbaceous perennial Hypericum perforatum is the “true” ‘St John’s Wort’, although the name is also often used to describe many other Hypericum species. Because of this, perforatum is also often called the ‘Common St John’s Wort’ or ‘Perforate St John’s Wort’, while less popular names for the species include ‘Chase-devil’, ‘Goatweed’, ‘Klamath Weed’, ‘Rosin Rose’ and ‘Tipton’s Weed’.
Perforatum is a reddish-coloured grassland plant that grows up to around one-metre-tall in USDA Hardiness Zones 4-8. The hairless stem produces clustered branches from which sprout narrow, oblong and stalkless leaves roughly one to two centimetres in length. These leaves are yellow to green and marked by translucent glandular dots which can be clearly observed by holding one up to the light, giving rise to the ‘perforatum’ of the species’ botanical name. As with the majority of the ‘St John’s Wort’ complex, Hypericum perforatum forms wonderfully golden-butter-yellow flowers – their five petals lined with black dots. Appearing from around late spring to mid-summer, the blossoms average roughly two and a half centimetres wide and can be very similar in appearance to those of related species, such as Hypericum hirsutum (‘Hairy St John’s Wort’).
‘St John’s Wort’ prefers well-drained, sandy/calcareous soils, although has a naturally wide range, including fields and meadows, hedges, pastures, roadsides and woodland. Provided it’s growing at less than one thousand five hundred metres, rainfall is less than 500mm and the average temperature is at least 24°C, perforatum seems quite happy almost anywhere! In fact, its rhizomes can spread so effectively that many countries consider it as a noxious weed. Nevertheless, many other cultures around the world have historically seen value in the species, which has been used for many years by indigenous herbalists. Moving on to the present time, perforatum is grown commercially in parts of Europe.
As with most types of ‘St John’s Wort’, Hypericum hirsutum grows easily from seed in strongly acidic to neutral soil. Sow it in the autumn for germination in the spring, roughly fifty centimetres apart, in sun to partial shade. Water regularly in average amounts, allowing the soil to dry completely in between.
All the seed sold by Arkham’s Botanical was freshly and ethically sourced in 2018-2019