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Flowering St. John's wort: how to recognize it

Focus on Ingredients 01.07.21 4 min. read

At a glance: How to recognize St. John's wort

  1. What does St. John's wort look like?
  2. Be careful of confusion
  3. How to collect St. John's wort
  4. For your next summer walk

St. John's wort in full bloom: How to recognize the medicinal herb

Shortly after the summer solstice, we traditionally celebrate St. John's Day on June 24. That's where the John's wort gets its name, which is in full bloom at this time. With its bright golden-yellow petals, it is not only beautiful to look at, but was also used as a medicinal plant in ancient times.

St. John's wort is said to carry the power of the sun in it - not least because of its mood-lifting effect. While a St. John's wort tea can help you regain your balance, the herb's red oil supports you when used externally, for example, for skin irritations or tension.

Read on to find out how you can recognize and use St. John's wort now that summer is here.

What does St. John's wort look like?

Not all St. John's wort is the same: Of the nine species common in our area, it is primarily the "true St. John's wort" to which healing powers are attributed. It bears the Latin name Hypericum perforatum and is also known as spotted St. John's wort.

The herbaceous plant grows 15 to 100 centimeters high and has roots that protrude up to 50 centimeters deep into the earth. You will find the St. John's wort mainly at the edge of bushes, forests or paths.

The name addition "perforatum" or "dot" has the plant not without reason: one of the most important identifying features of the real St. John's wort are the oil glands, which are located in the leaves. If you hold a leaf against the sun, it looks a little like they are perforated. Towards the edge, the glands often also have a black coloring.

By the way, if you grind the buds of St. John's wort between your fingers, the red-colored medicinal substance hypericin comes out. In the vernacular, it is therefore also called blood herb or "blood of the Lord God."

Achtung Verwechslungsgefahr: Warum Du beim Sammeln genau hinschauen sollen

The greatest danger of confusion is with the ragwort - and of all things, this is highly toxic: It contains alkaloids that can lead to severe liver damage in humans and animals even after small amounts.

In addition to the characteristic leaf glands of St. John's wort as well as the red sap of its buds, however, you can also distinguish the two by their petals.

St. John's wort always has exactly 5 petals, which are broad and roundish in shape. The ragwort, on the other hand, has significantly more petals. In addition, these are narrow and elongated.

The St. John's wort also has a certain resemblance to the meadow piping dew. Fortunately, however, this is not only harmless, but also resembles overall more of a dandelion. So it also has significantly more petals than St. John's wort, so you should be able to distinguish it without a doubt when you take a closer look.

How to collect St. John's wort


The flowers you can either collect by hand or cut with scissors or knife. Then you are free to make an oil or dry the flowers for a tea.

For the bright red St. John's oil, also called red oil, you simply put the flowers in a sealable jar. Thereupon you fill it up with high-quality vegetable oil, close it and put it for two months in a place as sunny as possible. You can impressively observe how the oil takes on the characteristic red color over time.

Later, you only have to separate the oil from the blossoms through a sieve and give the finished product into a bottle for storage.

Tip: Use dark bottles if possible and store them protected from light. So the red oil retains its effect longer.

Now you can treat your skin with the St. John's wort oil, among other things, for tension or light blunt injuries - or use it as a wonderfully soothing massage oil.

Would you rather dry the St. John's wort? Then you can put the flowers on newspaper or a baking tray and store in a dark and airy place. About 2 weeks you should wait before you can brew 2 tablespoons of the dried herb with 250 milliliters of water to a cup of tea.

Caution: The use of St. John's wort during pregnancy and lactation is not recommended. It can also make your skin more sensitive to light. We've compiled all the info on the effects and side effects of the plant for you in our comprehensive article on St. John's wort.

For your next summer walk

As beneficial as the effects of a St. John's wort tea or the red oil can be: You should take the yellow flowers only if you are sure that it is really St. John's wort.

In any case, it is a wonderful sight when the bright St. John's wort at the start of summer now again the fields and meadows lined.

If you have just no field with St. John's wort near and still want to benefit from the effect, we can recommend you, among other things, our relaxing sleep cream The Good Night: For this, we have fermented St. John's wort to produce the sleep hormone melatonin in a completely herbal and gentle way.

As one of the women's herbs, St. John's wort must of course also be included in our soothing period cream The Hug. With its herbal power, it can help you with the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), among other things.