Hypericum androsaemum 'Glacier'
St. John's Wort
 
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Family: Clusiaceae
Native Habitat: western Europe, northern Africa

The genus Hypericum is both varied and widely distributed. The 400 or so species in the genus occur nearly world-wide, absent only in tropical lowlands, deserts, and polar regions. They vary from herbaceous annuals and perennials, to woody shrubs and small trees, and feature golden-yellow flowers, often quite showy. Commonly known as St. John's Worts, they usually come into flower in late spring or early summer. And why, you may ask, are they know as St. John's Worts? St. John's Day is a Roman Catholic feast day on June 24th that celebrates the birth of St. John the Baptist. Since Hypericums are usually in full bloom at that date, in medieval times the flowers were often gathered on St. John's Day and were thought to help ward off evil by being hung over windows and doors. ‘Wort' is an Old English word for ‘plant' that became commonly used in the names of herbs that had medicinal properties, which brings us to St. John's Wort most well-known use. Common St. John's Wort ( H. perforatum ) was known to have medicinal properties as early as by the ancient Greeks. It was used as a component in universal panaceas through the centuries. Today it is widely known as an herbal treatment for major depression although its efficacy is controversial and unproved.

‘Glacier' is a variegated selection of H. androsaemum , a small shrub (rarely above 1 meter tall) that is native to western and southern Europe. H. androsaemum itself is a lovely plant and was in garden cultivation before 1600. Several selections of the species have been made over the years, of which ‘Glacier' is undoubtedly the showiest. ‘Glacier' is not only a great looking plant, it's a tough and easy-growing shrub as well. Obviously, its most obvious assets are its multi-season charm and beauty. The leaves emerge in spring mostly green with only small areas of white splashing. As the season advances the foliage becomes progressively more variegated, with bold white splashing often highlighted with a pink tint. The bright golden-yellow flowers with prominent stamens begin in early summer and last for several months, followed by an impressive fruit display. The small berries begin yellowish then gradually change to red, purple, and finally black. Different colored berries are often present in the same cluster.

After observing ‘Glacier' in our display gardens for over 10 years and growing it in our nursery for nearly that long, we've become as impressed with its adaptability and ironclad hardiness as we are with its beauty. It performs as well in full shade as it does in full sun. Fairly drought tolerant, its only dislike is with excessively poorly drained soils. Here in northern Indiana it is a “die-back” shrub. With a broad spreading form, it will grow to about 2 ft. tall in summer. It is semi-evergreen in warmer climates and does hold its foliage quite late here. There is no fall color to speak of. In winter the stems are killed back to the central crown so you will need to prune down to live wood in the spring, after which it will quickly regrow.

‘Glacier' is a little shrub that has it all: wonderful foliage, interesting fruit, hardiness, and adaptability. Even though we've experienced slowly increasing wholesale demand since we first listed it in our 2000 catalog, we're amazed it's still so little known.

Ornamental Characteristics:
Foliage heavily variegated with white splashing and pink tints. 3/4” wide, golden-yellow flowers, beginning in early summer and lasting several months. Fruits are clusters of berry-like capsules beginning greenish-yellow changing to red, then purple, and finally black.
Habit & Growth Rate:
Semi-evergreen shrub with a medium growth rate. Grows to 2 or 3 ft. high and wide. Behaves as a "die-back" shrub in Zone 5. Will be killed back to the crown in winter but quickly regrows in spring.
Landscape Uses: Shrub border, mixed border, foundation plantings, containers. Deer resistant.
Hardiness: Zone 5 to 8
Culture: Full sun to medium shade. Adaptable. Avoid poorly drained soils.