Reddish Vale Country Park


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St. John's Wort

St. John's Wort is a native perennial of hedgerows, open woods and grassy banks. Common throughout Britain except in Scotland where it is absent in the north.

St. Johns wort has been used throughout history to treat many medical conditions.

Grows to a height of 50cm.


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Hypericum Perforatum (St John's wort), perforatum is Latin for perforated. The leaves of St. John's wort when held to the light, reveal translucent dots, giving the impression that the leaf is perforated. The dots are not holes in the leaf, but a layer of colourless essential plant oils and resin.

The stem of St. John's wort is unique, the plant has two raised lines down the stem, this is something quite unusual in the plant world. Round or four-square are the general rule. It is only St. John's wort which has these two raised lines, making the stem appear pressed flat.

How St. John's wort got it's name is unknown, however the naming has a number of perfectly reasonable, possibly even true explanations.

All seem to agree that the plant's namesake was John the Baptist.

When the Bible says John lived on locusts and wild honey, the Greek word for locusts might have meant not just the insects, but the tops of plants on which the locusts alight. The Greek word akron is an image of a locust landing on top of a plant, usually in the Bible akron means the bug, but legend has it that when it refers to John the Baptist's culinary delights, the word includes both insect and plant. The legend takes a locust sized leap in assuming the plant St. John may have ingested with his honey coated insects was Hypericum perforatum. But if that legend does not hold up, there are others.

The black-red spots on the petals represent the blood shed by John at his beheading, and the translucent spots on the leaves represent the tears shed over that event.