As I write this, it's the day after the Summer Solstice, and a few days before Saint John's Eve/Day. We are in the midst of midsummer herbal magic! One of the most prolific plants at this time of year is the mysterious Saint John's Wort, Hypericum perforatum. I say mysterious because Saint John's Wort will suddenly appear in an area, stay for one or a few seasons, then will disappear only to re-appear in another location where it is most needed.
This plant has a rich history of being used medicinally from Ancient Greece to the Crusades. Used to treat a variety of ailments including pain and bruises as well as mood swings, bed-wetting, and emotional issues, Saint Joh's Wort's Latin name is derived from the tiny perforations naturally occurring in the leaves (perforatum). The other half of its name symbolizes the sun, hypericum - named for Hyperion, the Greek Titan who fathered the Sun, Moon and Dawn. A sprig of Saint John's Wort over the door was traditionally thought to protect against evil spirits. Traditionally this plant was harvested on the morning of the Summer Solstice or the morning of Saint John's Day (June 24th), when the plant and its flowers were at their peak. It is always best to harvest this plant after a series of hot days for increased potency.