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Roundpod St. John's-Wort
round pod
Roundpod St. John's Wort, photographed at Jonathan Dickinson State Park, Hobe Sound, Martin County, in May 2014.
roundpod st. john's wort

The medicinal value of St. John's-wort has been known since Hippocrates' time. It's been used to treat heart palpatations, cuts and bruises and inflammation. Scientists say it has some value in treating mild to moderate depression.

But not this St. John's-wort — roundpod St. John's-wort, Hypericum cistofolium. Looking at its bright, yellow flowers might cure you of the blues, but that's about it.

Roundpod St. John's-wort, also spelled St. Johnswort, is a native found throughout Florida. It's also native to the Southeast, from North Carolina to Texas.

It is shrubby plant that typically grows to about two to three feet tall, though some sources say it can reach 12 feet. It has a single stem and usually is taller than it is broad. It almost always is found in a wet habitat — wet flatwoods and the margins of swamps and marshes. It requires full sun.

Flowers bloom in the summer. They're bright yellow, with five petals and tend to occur in clusters near the top of the plant. It's easy to overlook this plant when they're not present but nearly impossible to miss when they are. Most other St. John's-worts don't have clustered flowers.

The leaves on roundpod are opposite each other in pairs, and at right angles from the pair above and below. They tend to roll over along the edges, another hallmark of this species.

Roundpod St. John's-wort is a minor source of food for both birds and mammals.

roundpod st. john's wort

It is cultivated and used in natural landscapes, restorations and wet gardens, but it might be difficult to find a nursery that grows it. It does require wet soil, limiting where it can be used. It is minimally drought tolerant once established.

Roundpod St. John's wort is one of about 500 members of Hypericum, the genus that is the St. John's-wort clan of plants. Twelve members are found in South Florida. St. John's-worts typically have yellow flowers with five petals, and leaves with glands that look like black dots. It is common St. John's-wort, H. perforatum, that has the medicinal properties. It is not found in Florida.

According to the U.S. Department of Agrculture, roundpod St. John's-wort is a member of Clusiaceae, the mangosteen family. Other sources, including the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, also put it in Hypericaceae, a sub-family which includes the St. John's-worts and two other genera. Wort, by the way, comes from an Old English word meaning root or plant.

Photographsy by David Sedore
Roundpod St. John's-Wort florida
  United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) distribution maps for Roundpod St. John's-Wort



roundpod st. john's wort
Links for Roundpod St. John's-Wort
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