Sunday, June 19, 2011

Pineland St. John's-wort - Hypericum suffruticosum

Pineland St. John's-wort (Hypericum suffruticosum)  is a tiny member of this large genus and one that could be easily overlooked in the understory. It occurs in moist to average pinelands in north Florida - across the panhandle and south to about Gainesville.  It is a plant of the Southeastern Coastal Plain, and occurs elsewhere from Louisiana to North Carolina.
Pineland St. John's-wort rarely stands taller than 6 inches. The unbranched multiple stems have simple leaves that remind me of those found in most Calamintha spp. mints - oval with a decided undercurl along the margins. 
The four-petal flowers open in June and occur atop the stems; normally only one is open at one time.  These are a light lemon yellow in color with the linear petals equidistant from each other.
Because of its small size and its understated beauty, this species has not been cultivated to the best of my knowledge and is not likely to be offered in the future.  I have never attempted it myself and do not know how far its natural range might be extended in cultivation. 
Look for it if you are hiking in north Florida in early summer. Though diminutive, it is another example of Florida's fascinating flora.

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