914 Hypericum frondosumCommon Names: golden St. John's wort, blueleaf St. John's wort, cedarglade , St.John's wort Family: Hypericaceae (St. John's wort Family)
Golden St. John's wort is a small semiwoody shrub with rich bluish-green foliage and bright golden-yellow flowers. The shrub grows in a rounded mound, 2-4 ft (0.6-1.2 m) tall with about the same width. Mature stems and branches are clothed in reddish bark that shreds and peels in thin flakes. The deciduous leaves are opposite, ovate to oblong, about 2 in (5.1 cm) long and about a 0.5 in (1.3 cm) wide. The flowers are 1-2 in (2.5-5.1 cm) across and borne in loose, spreading clusters of up to 6 flowers. The dense clump of stamens in the center of the saucer shaped flower looks like a bright yellow shaving brush. Golden St. John's wort stays in bloom most of the summer. The fruits are dry, reddish brown capsules about a half inch long. 'Sunburst' is a popular selection that has 2 in (5.1 cm) flowers and thick bushy stamens on a dense 3 ft (0.9 m) mound.
Hypericum frondosum, the golden St. John's wort, is native to the southeastern United States from South Carolina and Tennessee south to southern Georgia and west to eastern Texas.
CultureGolden St. John's Wort does best in well drained soil. This is a fast-growing but short lived plant, usually lasting only 4-6 years. Golden St. John's Wort has a dense, compact habit and rarely needs pruning. Light: Golden St. John's wort does best in full sun, but will tolerate partial shade, and prefers some shade in the hottest climates. Moisture: Golden St. John's wort is relatively drought tolerant. Hardiness: USDA Zones 5 - 8. Golden St. John's wort may die to the ground in cold winters, but it usually comes back in spring. Normally deciduous, it may stay evergreen in mild winters. Propagation: Start new plants from semiripe greenwood cuttings in spring. Sow seeds outside in fall and be patient.
Golden St. John's wort is a tough and attractive little shrub that deserves to be more widely planted. It's more popular as an ornamental in England than in its native country. The blue-green foliage seems to cool the hot summer landscape even as the brilliant yellow blossoms fuel the fire. In fall the plant is pretty too, covered with masses of little reddish fruits. Even in winter, the rich cinnamon colored exfoliating bark adds architectural interest. Golden St. John's wort is excellent in masses, or use it in mixed shrub borders. The little gray hairstreak butterfly lays its eggs on St. John's worts and the caterpillars eat the foliage, but rarely do they cause extensive damage. Adult butterflies sip nectar from the flowers.
There are more than 400 species in the St. John's wort genus, Hypericum, including many handsome shrubs native to the US, as well as the popular anti-depressant herb from Europe, perforate St. John's wort (H. perforata), usually called just "St. John's wort." Formerly classified within the family Guttiferae, the genus is placed in the family Clusiaceae by some authors, and in the Hypericaceae by others. Take your pick.
You can always identify a St. John's wort by the little translucent glands on the undersides of the leaves (except for the species with needlelike leaves). Hold a leaf up to the light and use a hand lens to see the little round windowlike dots evenly spaced across the underside of the leaf.
Steve Christman 3/1/01; updated 5/29/04