Field of Science

Friday Fabulous Flower - Who's wort?

OK This is a little bit weird.  TPP is never a day early with a FFF.  Mrs. Phactor pointed out that yellow flowers with lots of stamens is a bit of a theme recently, and all in our front garden.  Both the cactus and peony a few posts below fall into that category.  This particular flower is an evergreen shrub with a bluish-green foliage.  It's quite a handsome plant and the bees just love it.  Some species of this genus almost all with the general common name of St. John's wort, are native in our flora, but this one, Hypericum kalmianum, is native to the Great Lakes region, so a bit north of here.  Obviously it is quite hardy, and this particular one is an ornamental variety, basically trouble free and much recommended.  Ours is about 4 feet wide by 2.5 feet tall.


Anonymous said...

Dearest Phactor,
Hypericum has a strong folk tradition relating to St John the Baptist in Ireland and was (?is) considered to have magical properties.50 years ago in the West of Ireland, I often saw withered sprigs of a Hypericum (not sure what species) by the door in cottages of older people. It was there to ward off evil spirits (including malevolent fairies!). Also on one occasion I saw it being thrown on a bonfire on St John's Eve (23rd June) which was apparently a traditional practice. I suspect these practices are now consigned to history and even then seemed to be confined to older people who could be reluctant to talk about these things. The practices probably go back to pagan times and were then co-opted and christianised later.

I have found an interesting article on this:

A. R. Vickery (1981) Traditional Uses and Folklore of Hypericum in the British Isles. Economic Botany 35(3)289-295


The Phytophactor said...

Many thanks. Clearly some common names survive the traditions the name refers to.