Sunday, June 19, 2011

Roundpod St. John's-wort - Hypericum cistifolium

Roundpod St. John's-wort (Hypericum cistifolium) is one of the five-petal St. John's-worts and it occurs statewide in Florida in the edges of wetlands and in moist pine flatwoods and savannas.  In these habitats, it can be abundant.  Outside of Florida, this species occurs throughout the Southeastern Coastal Plain from Texas to North Carolina.
Roundpod St. John's-wort is distinctive.  It generally grows as a single stem and reaches a mature height between 2 and 3 feet.  The leaves are deep green, linear and the edges fold inwards.  These traits make it easy to identify, but because of its narrow growth form , individual plants tend to disappear into the background when they are not in bloom.
The flowers tend to occur mostly in early summer.  They are canary yellow in color, about 1/3 inch across, and produced in some abundance at the top of each stem.  The flowers also are held on distinctive stalks, unlike other species in our region.
Roundpod St. John's-wort is a wetland plant and does best in moist to wet soils, but like four-petal St. John's-wort (H. tetrapetalum), it is adaptable to most typical landscape settings if given partly sunny conditions and a bit of extra water during periods of extreme drought.  It has never been propagated (to my knowledge), however, by nurseries affiliated with FANN - the Florida Association of Native Nurseries, and it would be difficult to locate.  We do not propagate it at Hawthorn Hill either. 
Look for this distinctive St. John's-wort in flatwoods and open savannas in summer and enjoy its simple beauty.

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