Pictured above: Atlantic St. John’s wort (Hypericum tenuifolium) by Emily Bell. Click on terms for botanical definitions. View post as a PDF.
St. John’s wort is an evergreen shrub known for its outstanding ornamental features. Thirty-four species are found in Florida. All are native, and several are on state and federal endangered plant lists. Atlantic St. John’s wort is the most typical species encountered at native plant nurseries and plant sales. It occurs naturally in scrub, pine flatwoods, sandhills and coastal swales. Its many golden flowers bloom in the summer, attracting a host of native bees and other pollinators.
Atlantic St. John’s wort has small (less than 1 inch in diameter) bright yellow flowers with five petals, five sepals, and many obvious yellow-orange stamens. Leaves are dark green, needlelike and typically less than ½ inch long. They are sessile and oppositely arranged. Stems are reddish brown and sturdy. Seeds are born in capsules. The shrub has a delightful mounding and spreading shape.
The species epithet tenuifolium is from the Latin tenuis, or “thin,” and folius, or “leaf.”
Family: Hypericaceae (St. John’s wort family)
Native range: Peninsula, central and western Panhandle
To see where natural populations of Atlantic St. John’s wort have been vouchered, visit florida.plantatlas.usf.edu.
Hardiness: Zones 8A–10B
Soil: Well-drained sandy soils
Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
Growth habit: 1–1½’ tall with 2’+ spread
Garden tips: Atlantic St. John’s wort can be used as a foundation plant, along a border or edge, or in a mass planting. It can adapt to a variety of soils, including clay and loam, as well as acidic and lightly alkaline soils. Plants are not salt tolerant and are moderately drought tolerant once established.
Atlantic St. John’s wort is available from nurseries that specialize in Florida native plants. Visit www.PlantRealFlorida.org to find a nursery in your area.