Saturday, February 6, 2010

Shrubby St. Johnswort

I think shrubs are wonderful. Shrubs give you all of the rugged features of a tree, but in a petite form that’s easy to deal with. If you take one of the most beautiful flowers around and make it into a shrub, you have a real winner. Shrubby St. Johnswort, Hypericum prolificum, is one such plant. There are several of these plants at Blue Jay Barrens, but they rarely reach a height of even half of their four foot potential. I found this specimen growing in the shade below a shallow embankment.

I wish I’d seen this plant when it was in bloom. The number of seed pods suggests it really put on a display of flowers. These pods still contained several seeds, so I collected a few. I’ve never tried to grow this species from seed. Other Hypericums are easy to grow, so I’m hoping this one will be the same. This plant would really be pretty growing up around the house.

The loose, flakey bark makes for an interesting stem. I don’t know how long it takes to form a nice trunk like this. Shrubby St. Johnswort is uncommon here, but I find specimens scattered through all the prairie openings. I’ve know some of these plants to suddenly disappear from a location where they’ve been growing for several years. Since they’re not supposed to be palatable to most mammals, I wonder what would cause all traces of the plant to vanish.

This individual suffered some type of trauma that caused the upper branches to be bent down. Now, I’m just speculating, if a bear sat on it, this same type of damage might occur. Since I have no proof that a bear didn’t sit on it, I must conclude that I have Black Bears at Blue Jay Barrens. Sorry, I deal with people all the time who use that type of logic and sometimes can't resist making fun. Actually, I could imagine a turkey standing on the branches while it gathered up the seed pods.

I’ll have to visit this plant during the summer to see if it repeats its floral display. If the seeds germinate, it shouldn’t take long to get a good sized plant. With a few plants growing outside my house, I should be able to discover some of the mysteries of Shrubby St. Johnswort growth patterns.

No comments:

Post a Comment