Tutsan, St. John’s wort
(See “Fun Facts: Common Name Game”)
Hypericum is most noted for its ornamental fruit, the onset of which follows flowering. The round or elliptical berries occur in short-branched clusters atop thin, smooth, leafy stems that typically range from 24 to 36 inches in length. The berries are collared by small leaflike sepals.
Hues include brown, purplish brown, reddish brown, red-violet, burgundy, pink, red, red-orange, orange, peach, apricot, coral, yellow, green, cream and white. (See variety glossary on Pages 18 and 19 of pdf.)
Vase life at the consumer level should be around seven to 10 days, depending on care, environmental conditions and maturity at the time of sale.
Once available only from late summer through fall, Hypericum is now obtainable year-round from both domestic and foreign growers (particularly in Ecuador).
Unpack Hypericum immediately, and check quality. Remove all sleeves and stem bindings, as well as any foliage that would be under water in storage containers.
HYDRATION AND NUTRITION
Recut the stem ends at an angle with a sharp blade, removing at least 1 inch of stem. Immediately dip or place stem ends into a hydration solution, then into storage containers partially filled with properly proportioned flower-food solution.
Immediately after processing, place Hypericum into a floral cooler at 36 F to 40 F, and allow them to hydrate for at least two hours before selling or arranging them.
These botanicals’ sensitivity to ethylene gas is low.
COMMON NAME GAME The Hypericum genus is commonly known as St. John’s wort, but the species most readily grown for the cut flower industry, H. androsaemum, is more specifically called tutsan—a corruption of the French “tout sain,” meaning all healthy (see “Over the Counter”). In addition, some in the floral industry have adopted the nickname coffee-bean berry for these botanicals.
FAMILY MATTERS Some botanists categorize Hypericum in the new Hypericaceae (St. John’s wort) family while others place it in the Guttiferae/Clusiaceae (mangosteen) family. Regardless of family classification, Hypericum is related to mangosteens (Garcinia), balsam apples (Clusia), mammee apples (Mammea) and Alexandrian laurel (Calophyllum).
OVER THE COUNTER Hypericum/St. John’s wort was recommended by Hippocrates some 2,400 years ago to treat “nervous unrest.” Even today, because of its complex chemical makeup, which some believe produces sedative and pain-reducing effects, Hypericum is taken internally to treat mild to moderate depression; anxiety; nervous disorders; insomnia and hypersomnia; bedwetting; anorexia; and neuralgia, fibromyalgia, sciatica and rheumatic pain.
Externally, St. John’s wort is used for its healing and anti-inflammatory properties to treat wounds and bruises; skin disorders; and mild burns, including sunburn.
In the U.S., Hypericum/St. John’s wort is sold as a dietary supplement, for which health-benefit claims cannot legally be made.
VARIETY SHOW Prior to 2001, cut Hypericum could not be imported into the U.S. because of insect issues. When the USDA ended the import ban, the development of new varieties expanded rapidly. Currently, there are more than 400 cultivars of Hypericum, at least one-third of which are grown as cut flowers. Forty-five of the most prevalent cut-flower varieties are featured on Pages 18 and 19.
HOME SWEET HOME These botanicals are native to the Mediterranean region of Europe, northern Africa and the Middle East, into western Asia.
• Select bunches that have firm, glossy, fully colored berries; firm, dark-green and blemish-free foliage; and young (not too woody) stems.
• Check fruit for blackening or skin collapse, examine foliage for blemishes caused by disease or insects, and avoid bunches with stems that are turning yellow.
To view 45 additional Hypericum varieties, please download the PDF.
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format) files, download a copy of the free Adobe Reader.
Some information provided by:
Botanica, by R.G. Turner Jr. and Ernie Wasson
Chain of Life Network® , www.chainoflife.org
Cut Flowers, by C. Gelein
Cut Flowers of the World
by Johannes Maree and Ben-Erik van Wyk
Hortus Third, by Liberty Hyde Bailey and Ethel Zoe Bailey
Stearn’s Dictionary of Plant Names for Gardeners
by William T. Stearn