I try to make each post as timely as possible and this one is no exception. The Hypericum plants are so happy right now. Three different species are lighting up the garden with the cheeriest of yellow flowers. I would like for more people to learn about these sun-loving, summer-blooming dynamos.
|Peeling bark on H. densiflorum|
In the eastern US, plants in this genus take the form of shrubs, perennials and annuals. Some of the shrubs can get quite big. In particular, bushy St. John’s wort, Hypericum densiflorum, develops a very handsome trunk that has exfoliating bark. In general, species in this genus have yellow flowers and oppositely arranged leaves that can have a blue-green tint.
Hypericum frondosum – this is perhaps the showiest one in the bunch. A well-known cultivar is ‘Sunburst’. This is known as golden St. John’s wort or cedarglade St. John’s wort. One gardener even found it to have great foliage color in the fall.
Hypericum densiflorum – this is one that I discovered quite by accident. It came in as a hitchhiker on some other plants and a seed found its way into the soil near the driveway. It is partially evergreen, has beautiful bark and the most flowers of any Hypericum that I’ve seen. This year’s show is probably in excess of 200 flowers. The flowers are much smaller than H. frondosum but they are perfectly stunning.
|Bumblebee approaches Hypericum densiflorum|
Hypericum hypericoides – this species blooms a little later than the others and the blooms are very modest. Sometimes referred to as St. Andrews’ cross, the petals of this species do form a perfect ‘X’ shape. I find this shrub in the wild quite often in heights that range from just a few inches to up to 2 feet tall. The taller forms are quite gangly. I wonder if they aren’t different species but have not been able to identify them as such.
Hypericum punctatum – this is one of my favorite roadside blooms (oh wait, do I say that about everything?). Bright and cheery flowers form mostly at the top of the plant, creating a bigger effect than if they were held singly. It’s fun to get out a hand lens to see the tiny black dots that give this species its name (punctatum means “spotted). Look carefully and see that both leaves and petals have black dots.
Hypericum mutilum – I was quite surprised to identify a little mystery plant in my yard as this species. First of all, I had no idea that there were any annual species. Second, the whole plant was so tiny that it didn’t seem possible to be related to the others. This little guy is quite attractive in bloom.
Yes, the Hypericums are very happy these days. And you know what? They make me happy too!