Friday, 29 July 2011

St John's wort

Here is St John’s wort, Hypericum perforatum.

Take my wort for it, it's lovely

We have lots here at the Croft, growing wild on the field margins. It has just been in flower – in time for St John’s day (John the Baptist) on the 24th June when people used to hang the plant above the icons in their house to ward off evil spirits. The leaves held up to the sunlight seem to have tiny holes in them (the “perforatum” in the name.) These are little packets of plant oil.

It’s an enigmatic plant. It is good for humans; here in Catalunya an infusion of St John’s wort is used to treat mild depression, and an oil made by soaking the plant for 40 days in olive oil is used as a rub for strained backs and muscles. But it’s bad for sheep – the plant makes them photosensitive, and can make them seriously ill.

I want to grow more, but the seeds are tiny and hard to collect. If I succeed you’ll hear about it first, here.

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