In the Herb Garden this week

St John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum)

 There are many ancient superstitions regarding this herb. Its name Hypericum is derived from the Greek which meant ‘against an apparition’, a reference to the belief that the herb was obnoxious to evil spirits and would cause them to fly away.

Its later title, St John’s Wort, refers to the fact that it comes into flower round about the feast day of St John the Baptist on June 24th and our plants are trying hard to put on a display this week despite the strange weather patterns lately. The flowers are covered in little red dots which contain a red pigment and this oily extract has been used in the treatment of wounds for many centuries including by the Knights Hospitaller, the Order of St John, after battles in the Crusades. It is still valued for its healing and soothing properties.

The plant also has an affinity with the nervous system and can help to ease tension and anxiety. Modern research has found that it contains many active substances, including hypericin and hyperforin, which are thought to affect mood and it is to be found in tablet form on most chemist and supermarket shelves today.