This now famous plant is native to temperate parts of Europe, Asia and Northern Africa. It was brought as a medicinal plant to the west in the 17th century and now can be found growing in meadows and by roads across North America. Their beautiful bright yellow flowers and green ovate leaves are a delight in the garden and is an important plant ally that is low maintenance while adding a pop of color to the medicinal garden. Many pollinators are attracted to Hypericum including leafcutter bees, bumblebees and long horned beetles.
St. John's wort gets their name because they commonly bloom near the summer solstice in late June, around St John's Feast Day which is June 24th. Once upon a time, this perennial herb would be hung up in doorways and above religious icons on St John's Feast day to ward off evil spirits and to safeguard a home from sickness. The genus name Hypericum is likely derived from the Greek words hyper (above) and eikon (picture), in reference to the tradition of hanging plants over religious icons in the home during St John's Day. "Wort" is a traditional designation for "medicinal herb", and can also refer to plants used for spiritual rites.
As a medicinal plant, Hypericum shines. Helpful for seasonal affective disorder, mild to moderate depression and for anxiety, this plant has gained fame for being a non pharmaceutical depression support for many millions across the world. St John’s wort also stands out as a nerve tonic and can help allay nerve pain. It also has strong antiviral properties and is anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiseptic and astringent.