Wonder or Weed?

St John’s wort is the plant species Hypericum perforatum, and is also known as Tipton’s Weed, Chase-devil, or Klamath weed. Hypericum perforatum is a popular groundcover type of ornamental plant used in gardens, including drought tolerant landscaping and that’s how it has found it’s way into our back yard.

Although Hypericum perforatum is grown commercially in some regions of south east Europe, it is listed as a noxious weed in more than twenty countries and has introduced populations in South and North America, India, New Zealand, Australia, and South Africa.

In pastures, St John’s wort acts as both a toxic and invasive weed. It replaces native plant communities and forage vegetation to the dominating extent of making productive land nonviable or becoming an invasive species in natural habitats and ecosystems. Ingestion by livestock can cause photosensitization, central nervous system depression, spontaneous abortion, and can lead to death.

But, St John’s wort is widely known as an herbal treatment for depression. In some countries, such as Germany, it is commonly prescribed for mild depression, especially in children and adolescents. Standardized extracts are generally available over the counter, though in some countries (such as the Republic of Ireland) a prescription is required.

An analysis of twenty-nine clinical trials with more than five thousand patients was conducted by Cochrane Collaboration. The review concluded that extracts of St. John’s wort were superior to placebo in patients with major depression. St John’s wort had similar efficacy to standard antidepressants. The rate of side-effects was half that of newer SSRI antidepressants and one-fifth that of older tricyclic antidepressants.

So I guess the decision of whether it’s a wonder or a weed depends on a number of factors including whether or not you are livestock or a human with depression, what country you live in, or if you mind having an invasive plant whose blooms don’t last very long and which doesn’t look so great the rest of the year in your yard.

I vote weed.

Cheers – DJD

Rain for the week: 0.0 in. Year To Date: 46.00 in

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Explore posts in the same categories: Flowers, In Our Back Yard, Nature, Random musings

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