Perforate St John's-wort

©Philip Precey

Perforate St John's-wort

Scientific name: Hypericum perforatum
The subject of much myth and legend, and a herbal remedy, Perforate St John's-wort is a familiar flower. It has star-shaped, bright yellow flowers and lots of tiny holes in its leaves that give off a 'foxy' smell.

Species information

Statistics

Height: up to 80cm

Conservation status

Common.

When to see

June to September

About

Perforate St John's-wort can be found in open woods, along hedgerows and roadside verges, and on waste ground. Its bright yellow flowers appear from June to September and the blood-red juice that exudes from its stems has made it a focus for much myth and ritual. For instance, torchlight processions and gorse-burning were just some of the activities undertaken on Midsummer's Day, a pagan festival soon replaced by the Feast of St John the Baptist, hence the common name of this plant. It's also said that the red juice from its stem represents his bloody murder.

How to identify

Perforate St John's-wort can easily be identified as it appears to have many tiny 'holes' in its leaves; these are actually colourless glands that give off a 'foxy' smell. It has bright yellow, star-shaped flowers that are peppered with tiny black dots.

Distribution

Found throughout the UK, but particularly widespread in England and Wales.

Did you know?

Perforate St John's-wort was traditionally used as a remedy for all kinds of ailments, including wounds and burns. It is still popular today for the treatment of mild depression, yet research and opinion differs on how effective it really is.

How people can help

The Wildlife Trusts manage many nature reserves for the benefit of the wildlife they support. You can help by supporting your local Trust and becoming a member; you'll find out about exciting wildlife news, events on your doorstep and volunteering opportunities, and will be helping local wildlife along the way.