Spotted St. John’s Wort
Synonyms of Hypericum punctatum (9) (Updated on 12-26-22 from Plants of the World Online): Hypericum corymbosum Muhl. ex Willd. (1803)(nom. illeg.), Hypericum maculatum Walter (1788)(nom. illeg.), Hypericum maculatum var. corymbosum Kuntze (1891), Hypericum maculatum var. heterophyllum Kuntze (1891), Hypericum maculatum var. subcordifolium Kuntze (1891), Hypericum maculatum var. subpetiolatum E.P.Bicknell (1901), Hypericum micranthum Choisy (1821), Hypericum punctatum f. subpetiolatum (E.P.Bicknell) Fernald (1942), Hypericum subpetiolatum (E.P.Bicknell) Small (1903)
Hypericum punctatum Lam. is the 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.
The genus Hypericum Tourn. ex L. was described by Carl Linnaeus in the second edition of the first volume of Species Plantarum in 1753. It was first named by Joseph Pitton de Tournefort.
As of 12-26-22 when this plant was last updated, Plants of the World Online lists 510 species in the Hypericum genus. They are members of the plant family Hypericaceae with 6 genera. Those numbers could change as updates are made on POWO.
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 the United States and Canada is similar.
The map on iNaturalist shows where members have made observations. Anyone can join and it is a great website to confirm and share your observations. The maps on iNaturalist are continually updated as members post new observations.
THERE ARE SEVERAL LINKS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PAGE FOR FURTHER READING AND TO HELP WITH A BETTER POSITIVE ID.
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 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 whereas 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 haven’t seen this species on the farm or anywhere else since 2019. I am still hoping to find them again in the back of the farm where I found them before. I did find Hypericum perforatum (Common St. John’s Wort) on a few back roads in 2020 and 2022.
I have enjoyed photographing and learning about the many wildflowers growing on the family farm and in other areas. The 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 identified over 250 species of wildflowers (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.
I hope you found this page useful and be sure to check the links below for more information. They were written by experts and provide much more information. Some sites may not be up-to-date but they are always a work in progress. If you can, I would appreciate it if you would click on the “Like” below and leave a comment. It helps us bloggers stay motivated. You can also send an email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would enjoy hearing from you especially if you notice something is a bit whacky.
FOR FURTHER READING:
PLANTS OF THE WORLD ONLINE (GENUS/SPECIES)
INTERNATIONAL PLANT NAMES INDEX (GENUS/SPECIES)
FLORA OF MISSOURI (GENUS/SPECIES)
FLORA OF NORTH AMERICA (GENUS/SPECIES)
WORLD FLORA ONLINE (GENUS/SPECIES)
USDA PLANTS DATABASE
LADY BIRD JOHNSON WILDFLOWER CENTER
NOTE: The data (figures, maps, accepted names, etc.) may not match on these websites. It depends on when and how they make updates and when their sources make updates. Some websites have hundreds and even many thousands of species to keep up with. Accepted scientific names change periodically and it can be hard to keep with as well. Some of the links may use a name that is a synonym on other sites. In my opinion, Plants of the World Online by Kew is the most reliable and up-to-date plant database and they make updates on a regular basis. I make updates “at least” once a year and when I write new pages or add new photos but I do get behind. We are all a work in progress. 🙂