Saint Francis and Saint John

St. John's wort

Years ago I got a St. John’s wort plant, just cos it was something else interesting to have growing.  It took a long time to spread out, but it covers a  2′ area now.

It’s a plant that used for depression today, but also has anti-inflammatory uses that were known in the middle ages.  Years ago when I was in a middle ages reenactment group, I used to make an actual medieval pain treatment called bruise juice.  St. John’s wort flowers were in it, dried, and they were a dull shade of yellow when dried.  White oak powder, also used to relieve pain, was also in it, and other things, but it’s a secret recipe.  (That reenactment group has resources that give old recipes for herbal medicines as well  as historically accurate food.) Bruise juice  had to ferment in a dark place for about 6 weeks, and you could tell it was ready when it turned red.  The red was color released from the St. John’s wort.  We see yellow flowers, but there are chemicals in the flowers that will turn red when you crush the flower in your hand. Those chemicals are also released and turn red in the presence of some other things, especially when fermented.  People also infuse the flowers with olive oil to make a treatment for burns, and that will also turn red. Plants have their own magic!

Magic aside, I chose to put St. Francis in with the St. John’s wort, just cos it seemed appropriate.  St. Francis was the patron saint of plants and animals, and in fact all of ecology, so  he belongs in the garden.  This statue was my mother’s and she liked so well that I had to keep it when she got sick and had to enter a nursing home and later passed away.

So, St. Francis and St. John sit and grow under the tomatoes, and later in the summer there are yellow magical flowers.  All of nature is magic.

St. Francis

13 responses to “Saint Francis and Saint John

    • Yea, he just seemed to belong in the wort. I don’t do much with herbs any more except cooking herbs, but I still have some interesting ones around.

  1. This one looks a little different from the St. Johnswort that grows here along the road sides, healthier I suppose because of better care. There’s also a really beautiful one with flowers almost 2 inches across that occurs in some wetlands near here but it is very scarce. I think it can be used in herbal medicines as it also has little black dots on the petals like the road side species.

    • I guess there are different varieties. I’d love to see some of those that have 2″ flowers. The flowers are such a pretty bright yellow color.

      • You’re welcome.

        I noticed on the map they grow in CT but are rare in the state. Supposedly not rare in MN but I’ve seen it once here, twice in WI, and once in MI and I’ve been in a lot of swamps in all three states.

      • I think most of the swamps in PA are in the mountains or along rivers (from my reading of state natural resources web sites). The mountain swamps are probably the right types.

        If I can get the timing right I will definitely head to that swamp in WI next summer and photo it.

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