Hypericum Perforatum Uses

Hypericum perforatum is the botanical name of the plant commonly known as St. John’s wort. It’s native to Europe but has been introduced to the U.S. where it occurs as a roadside weed in nearly all states and much of Canada, according to the USDA Plants Profile Web site. This perennial plant sports small yellow flowers on spikes that rise up to 3 feet above the low-growing plant.


According to the Mayo Clinic, herbalists have used Hypericum perforatum to help alleviate the symptoms of mild to moderate depression. Studies have shown that it has little or no effectiveness against severe cases of this disease, but many people continue to believe that it has helped them through periods of lesser depressive symptoms. Mayo Clinic adds that studies have not confirmed that this plant has as high an effectiveness level as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor drugs. Serious interactions have been reported when people combine this herb with prescription medications and certain supplements.

Helpful For the Skin

When the flowers and foliage of Hypericum perforatum are infused in olive or other oil, it creates a red-tinged hue that herbalists believe is effective in helping to heal wounds, including surgical incisions, sunburn, bites and stings, skin ulcers and burns. It has astringent and antibacterial properties, which help to cleanse and heal all types of wounds.

Animal Feed

Goats and deer often choose to eat Hypericum perforatum, but most other livestock avoid it when other forage plants are available. It can cause photosensitivity, including sunburning, blistered skin and edemas, especially among light colored animals. The U.S. Forest Service reports on its website that livestock can become poisoned after eating this plant, resulting in blindness and soreness and swelling of the mouth, which can limit their ability to eat and drink.


Hypericum perforatum has been used to make dyes that result in yellow, orange, brown, red and purple hues. It is believed that this plant contains fairly large quantities of tannins, according to the Plants For a Future website.

Garden Plant

Its easy growth habit and yellow flowers make Hypericum perforatum suitable for use in landscaping.

Keywords: Hypericum perforatum, St. John's wort, medicinal plants herbs

About this Author

Barbara Fahs lives on Hawaii island, where she has created Hi'iaka's Healing Herb Garden. Fahs wrote "Super Simple Guide to Creating Hawaiian Gardens," and has been a professional writer since 1984. She contributes to Big Island Weekly, Ke Ola magazine, GardenGuides and eHow. She earned her B.A. at UCSB and her M.A. from San Jose State University.