Hypericum frondosum 'Sunburst'
St. John's Wort
 
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Family: Clusiaceae
Native Habitat: southern U.S.

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.

Hypericum frondosum is a deciduous shrub native to the southern U.S. Its native range extends as far north as Kentucky and far southern Indiana where it is known from one report in Clifty Falls State Park near Madison. It has attractive blue-green foliage and grows to about three ft. high and two to three ft. wide. The five-petaled, golden-yellow flowers sport a fancy central bush of stamens, and appear in June and July. Attractive, exfoliating, reddish-brown bark develops on mature stems. 'Sunburst' is a selection that features flowers larger than the species, up to two in. across. Its blue-tinted foliage is distinctive in the landscape and is a lovely foil for the bright flowers. It is a superb summer-blooming shrub.

Culture is remarkably easy. Grow it in full sun or light shade but flowering will probably be best in full sun. It adapts well to most soils except for ones that are very wet.

 

 

Ornamental Characteristics: Blue-green foliage. Uniquely-shaped, bright golden-yellow flowers in mid-summer.
Habit & Growth Rate: Fairly fast growing to about 3 ft. high and 2 1/2 ft. wide.
Landscape Uses: Shrub border, mixed border, foundation plantings.. Deer resistant.
Hardiness: Zone 5 to 8
Culture: Full sun to light shade. Adaptable. Avoid poorly drained soils.
Awards: Recommended Highly, Ohio Nursery & Landscape Assoc.