Spotted St. John’s Wort
Synonyms of Hypericum punctatum (8) (Updated on 3-9-21): Hypericum corymbosum Muhl. ex Willd., Hypericum maculatum Walter, Hypericum maculatum var. corymbosum Kuntze, Hypericum maculatum var. heterophyllum Kuntze, Hypericum maculatum var. subcordifolium Kuntze, Hypericum micranthum Choisy, Hypericum punctatum f. subpetiolatum (E.P.Bicknell) Fernald, Hypericum subpetiolatum (E.P.Bicknell) Small
Hypericum punctatum Lam. is the correct and accepted scientific name for the Spotted St. John’s Wort. It was named and described as such by Jean-Baptiste Pierre Antoine de Monet de Lamarck in Encyclopedie Methodique in 1797.
Plants of the World Online lists 505 accepted species in the Hypericum genus (as of 3-9-21 when Ilast updated this page). They are members of the plant family Hypericaceae with 6 genera. Those numbers could change periodically as updates are made.
The above distribution map for Hypericum punctatum is from Plants of the World Online. Areas in green are where the plant is native. The map on the USDA Plants Database for North America is the same. The species could have a broader range than what the maps show.
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You just never know what you will find when you are looking for species of wildflowers to identify. I have been living back on the family farm since 2013 after a 26-year absence. I started getting more involved with wildflower ID a few years ago and I am constantly finding new species I hadn’t observed before. One of those species is the Hypericum punctatum (Spotted St. John’s Wort). I found it growing along the edge of where hay was baled in the southeast pasture where cows had not been grazing for a couple of years.
The five-petaled, star-shaped flowers are born from a corymbiform cluster of terminal cymes. The flowers petals are covered with dark spots. The flowers are very small and may be hard to notice at first, but there are also black bands between the veins on the petals.
Leaves vary in shape from oblong to elliptic or ovate with rounded tips and generally taper toward the base.
The leaves can have short petioles, sessile (no petioles), or even perfoliate (where the pair of leaves encircle the stem). The undersides of the leaves have small spots…
You have to take a close look at the flower petals to see the dark spots and streaks. They can appear anywhere on the upper surface of the petals where some other species have them near the margins or are absent.
The flowers do not produce nectar. Bees are attracted to the flowers for the pollen.
The common name refers to the feast day of St. John which was celebrated in Medieval Europe at the time of the summer solstice which is the time when this plant typically flowers there.
Mammals seldom eat the foliage because the leaves contain hypericin which can blister the skin and irritate the digestive tract.
I have enjoyed photographing and learning about the many wildflowers growing on the farm and other areas. My farm is in Windsor, Missouri in Pettis County (Henry County is across the street and Benton and Johnson aren’t far away). I have grown over 500 different plants and most have pages listed on the right side of the blog. I am not an expert, botanist, or horticulturalist. I just like growing, photographing and writing about my experience. I rely on several websites for ID and a horticulturalist I contact if I cannot figure them out. Wildflowers can be somewhat variable from location to location, so sometimes it gets a bit confusing. If you see I have made an error, please let me know so I can correct what I have written.
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