Why there are small holes in the leaves of the St. John’s Wort (005)

The St.John’s Wort flowers round about the longest day of the year, when the days are long and the nights short. It is a well-known medicinal herb.  Maria Magdalena laid the basis for the success of this wonder middle. How the leaves came to have small holes is told in this Christian legend.  Listen……

Maria Magdalena was standing before Jesus dying on the cross and saw drops of blood falling.  “Look,” she said with tears in her eyes, “even the flowers are collecting the precious blood of Jesus in their buds so that nothing of his legacy is lost.” After the burial and resurrection she dug up the little plants which had caught the droplets of blood and took them home with her. She cared for the little plants in her garden so well, that they flourished and multiplied. When she squeezed the buds, a dark red sap came out: the precious blood stored in the plant. These red droplets appeared to have a strong medicinal effect with warmth-giving properties. Within no time at all the rumour spread that Maria Magdalena was growing medicinal herbs in her garden. People asked her for seeds and cuttings from the plant. It soon became a much loved herb.
The devil looked on in dismay at the growing popularity that this small herb enjoyed and thought up a plan to put an end to this. One day the devil visited Maria Magdalena’s garden with a large bunch of thistles in his claws. He beat the little plants to a pulp with the thistle’s spiky leaves and cried out, “I will destroy them. I will root them out. Every one of them. Right down to the very last specimen.”
St. John was watching this from heaven and sent an angel hurtling down to the earth to save the holy medicinal plant from destruction. The angel chased the devil away with his own bunch of thistles and cried out, ”Keep away from this plant! These flowers are holy, because they store within them the blood of Jesus. They will help people needing warmth for healing purposes.” Out of gratitude for saving this precious herb, it has been named after its guardian angel, St. John.

How do we know that this story is a true one? If you squeeze the bud of the flower, a purple red sap appears that contains a warmth-giving oil. If you pluck a leaf and hold this against the light, you can still see the small holes which resulted from being beaten by the devil.

This truly summer flower flowers round about June 24th, the date on which Germanic tribes celebrated the Midsummer Equinox with large fires. Since the advent of Christianity, the birthday of the holy
St.John the Baptist is still commemorated in certain places by lighting of Spring fires. It is this same celebration to which this small plant owes its name.
The Latin for the Common St. John’s Wort is “hypericum perforlatum”. ‘Hypericum’ means something like the ‘herb of the heath’, which indicates that it can be found growing in warm dry ground with a sunny aspect.  It copes well with large fluctuations in temperature. Being a pioneer plant it is often found in the dunes and in wood clearings. The plant flowers with numerous lose yellow flowers from June to October. Each flower only flowers for one day. ‘Perforatum’ means ‘perforated’ and refers to the small holes which are visible when a leaf is held up to the light.  In French the plant is called “millepertuis perforé”, which means a ‘thousand holes”. St John’s Wort Oil is a warmth-giving oil.  St John’s Wort is popular as a natural anti-depressive.


© Els Baars, Natuurverhalen.nl




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Els Baars