Tuesday, July 06, 2010

St John's Wort

click photo to enlarge
Hypericum is a common garden and wild flower. The species Hypericum perforatum is known as Common St John's Wort, a flower of grassland and open scrub. Hyper is from the Greek "over", and icum dervives from "ikon". Thus, the name recalls the old practice of placing the flower over religious picture on St John's Day (June 24th) in order to ward off evil spirits. The perforatum part of the name refers to the small transparent dots in the leaves which are oil-producing cells.

Hypericum has long been known for its medicinal uses. In ancient times St John's Wort was used as a diuretic, for wound healing and for menstrual disorders. Today its clinical effectiveness in treating mild depression is widely accepted, and most pharmacies carry pills that contain the plant's extract.

I came across this particular plant in a public garden. Perhaps it was the way the light was falling on it that prompted my photograph, because I've looked at Hypericum many times before without being motivated to point my camera at it. However, on this occasion I was struck by the cloud of anthers and filaments that looked like a small explosion with pieces of debris being flung outwards from a central point, and so I made that the subject of a detail of a single bloom.

* Looking at it again I'm sure the plant I photographed is a cultivated variant of Hypericum and not the wild version of the genus.

photograph and text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Lumix LX3
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 5.1mm (24mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f2.5
Shutter Speed: 1/100
ISO: 80
Exposure Compensation: -0.33 EV
Image Stabilisation: On