St. John’s wort is a perennial herb distributed throughout Europe, North America, the Middle East and China. It is easily identified by its star-shaped yellow flowers, the petals of which are edged with tiny black dots. The leaves contain oil glands that are marked by dots that appear translucent when held up to the light.
While the window-like feature of the leaves gave rise to St. John’s wort’s genus name, the plant’s species name was inspired by the Greek words hyper and eikon, which respectively mean “above” and “picture.” This is a reference to the tradition of hanging stems of St. John’s wort over windows and doorways on June 24th to protect the home and to honor the birthday of John the Baptist, for whom the plant was named.
St. John’s Wort is a shrub-like flowering plant also known as Goat Weed. The herb has a long history of use in Europe and North America, although there is evidence of its use in ancient Greece and Rome.
The powdered herb is used in cosmetic preparations, usually to make ointments and salves. The powder is also frequently encapsulated as a dietary supplement.