A small family of shrubs and herbs, having opposite, toothless, and generally stemless leaves, and regular, four or flve-petalled flowers.
Common St. Johnswort. Hypericum perforatum.
Common St. Johnswort (Hypericum Perforatum) (European) is a wanderer from the old world that, having reached our hospitable shores, proceeded to multiply and over-run the native plants so that it is now regarded by farmers as a pest along with the Wild Carrot and Mustard. If it is true that in the struggle for existence, the fittest survive, then surely this species must be one of the fittest; we often see it growing lustily in circumstances under which few plants could exist. It grows promiscuously in fields or along roadsides. Even a generous sprinkling of tarvia, received when the roads were sprinkled, failed to kill this plant, although many other species died from the effects.
It has a slender but tough stem from one to two feet high; it has numerous short branches, each crowded with tiny, stiff, oval leaves. The upper branches terminate in clusters of 5-parted, golden-yellow flowers with numerous, long, yellow stamens. This species blooms from July until September.
Spotted St. Johnswort (Hypericum Puncta-Tum) is a similar species, with paler flowers having fine black streaks on the petals, especially on the under sides; the leaves are thickly dotted with black and brown. It is found in moist places or thickets from N, S. to Minn, and southwards.
Shrubby St. Johnswort (Hypericum Proli-Ficum) is a very shrubby species, with stout branching stems. The deep green, linear-oblong leaves are closely seated on the stem and at their bases are other tiny leaves or leaflets. The flower clusters are thick, flat and bright golden-yellow; the numerous stamens are orange-yellow. Common from N. Y. to Minn, and southwards.
A. Marsh St. Johnswort.
B. St. Johnswort.
Marsh St. Johnswort (Hypericum Virginicum) is an entirely different species in every respect. The stem is slender, erect and from one to two feet in height, growing from perennial running rootstalks. The comparatively large leaves are light green, with brownish spots and a white bloom on the under side; they are closely set, oppositely on the stem.
The flowers are in small clusters terminating the branches; the five petals are of a pinkish, flesh-color ard surround three groups of golden-yellow stamens.
This species is prebably chiefly self-pollenized; the three bundles of stamens are close to the stigmas, and just on a level with them, so that a visiting insect could scarcely help depositing pollen on the stigma of its own flower. True, some of it may be left on his body to carry to another blossom, so that occasionally cross-fertilization may occur. After the flowering season, the flower contracts so that the anthers and stigmas are in contact with each other. Later in the summer, after the flowers have entirely withered away, the stem and the leaves take on a rosy tinge that attracts the attention of the observer, even though he be not interested in flowers.
St. Johnswort (Hypericum Ellipticum) has a simple usually 4-angled stem, sometimes with a single branch near the top. It grows from 8 to 20 inches high and is quite leafy. The leaves are comparatively large, about the same shape as those of Marsh St. Johnswort. At the top are a few five-petalled flowers with bright golden-yellow stamens. The ovoid pods succeeding the flowers are brownish. This species is found in damp places or along streams from Me. to Minn, and south to Pa.