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St John's wort is named as such because it commonly flowers, blossoms and is harvested at the time of the summer solstice in late June, around St John's Feast Day on 24 June. The herb would be hung on house and stall doors on St John's Feast day to ward off evil spirits and to safeguard against harm and sickness to people and live-stock. Alternatively, there may be a connection with the Knights Hospitaller. The genus name Hypericum is possibly derived from the Greek words hyper (above) and eikon (picture), in reference to the tradition of
It is probable that Hypericum perforatum originated as a hybrid between two closely related species with subsequent doubling of chromosomes. One species is certainly a diploid a subspecies of Hypericum maculatum, either subspecies maculatum or immaculatum. Subspecies maculatum is similar in distribution and hybridizes easily with Hypericum perforatum, but subspecies immaculatum is more similar morphologically. The other parent is most likely Hypericum attenuatum as it possesses the features of Hypericum perforatum that Hypericum maculatum lacks. Though Hypericum maculatum is mostly western in its distribution across Eurasia and Hypericum attenuatum is mostly eastern, both species share distribution in Siberia, where hybridization likely took place. However, the subspecies immaculatum now only occurs in south-east Europe.It was thought to have medical properties in classical antiquity and was a standard component of theriacs, from the Mithridate of Aulus Cornelius Celsus' De Medicina (ca. 30 CE) to the Venice treacle of d'Amsterdammer Apotheek in 1686. Folk usages included oily extract (St John's oil) and Hypericum snaps. Hypericum perforatum is a common species and is grown commercially for use in herbalism and traditional medicine.
Russo, Emilio; Scicchitano, Francesca; Whalley, Benjamin J.; Mazzitello, Carmela; Ciriaco, Miriam; Esposito, Stefania; Patanè, Marinella; Upton, Roy; Pugliese, Michela; Chimirri, Serafina; Mammì, Maria; Palleria, Caterina; De Sarro, Giovambattista (May 2014). "Hypericum perforatum : Pharmacokinetic, Mechanism of Action, Tolerability, and Clinical Drug-Drug Interactions". Phytotherapy Research. 28 (5): 643–655. doi:10.1002/ptr.5050. PMID 23897801. S2CID 5252667.Background: Saint John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum L., HP) is commonly registered in Europe under the THR scheme (Traditional Herbal Registration) or licensed as a medicine. Nonetheless unregulated medical products and food supplements are accessible through the internet which are often of poor quality. The species’ natural distribution stretches through large regions of Europe to China and four subspecies have been distinguished. When compared to the European Pharmacopoeia reference, the presence of additional compounds was linked to so-called Chinese HP. (Source: www.frontiersin.org)