Freitag, 20. Januar 2012

Plan of the Day (January 20th, 2012) - Hypericum perforatum L. agg.

Today's “Plant of the Day” is Hypericum perforatum L. from the Hypericaceae family. In English, you maybe know this plant as  “St. John's wort” or “Tipton's weed”. In German, this species is known as  “Tüpfel-Johanniskraut” (Spotted St. John's wort”) or “Durchlöchertes Johanniskraut” (perforated St. John's wort) and sometimes “Herrgottsblut” (Good Lord's blood).

H. perforatum - habitus

It's a perennial plant, which can reach heights between 50 and 80 centimetres (19.75 to 31.5 feets). It grows upright and has a two-edged , bald stalk. The alternating leaves are oval or egg-shaped and between 1 and 2 centimetres long (0.25 to 0.75 inches). They have no petiole but are covered with many, thin oil-glands. You can see these glands by holding a leaf against the light. It seems to be perforated (name!) by many small, white holes (the glands).

H. perforatum - leaves and stalk

The inflorescences are wide panicles with many flowers. The sepals are green, lanceolate and with a protruding tip. The asymmetrical petals are golden-yellow; with black dots at the edge. Flowering time is between July and August.

 H. perforatum- here, you can see oil glands as white dots

This species is native to Middle Europe and West Asia but can also be found as neophyte in America and Australia. H. perforatum is a pioneer, a plant, which grows at first on a rough ground. So, you can find it e.g. on scree slopes, ruderal wastelands or railway tracks but also meadows, the edges of forests and heaths. H. perforatum prefers dry and lean sites, with a low content of nitrogen within the soil.

H. perforatum - inflorescence

H. perforatum is also a medicinal plant and contains many ingredients like Flavonoids or essential oils. One of these ingredients is Hypericin, a red coloured liquid, which can be extracted by crushing the flowers with your fingers. This Hypericin is used as antidepressant, burns and muscle aches. During the Middle Age, the ingredients of H. perforatum were also used for abortion.

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