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Genus Hypericum Family Hypericaceae

Synonyms: Ascyrum APNI*

Description: Glabrous herbs or shrubs.

Leaves opposite, gland-dotted, sessile.

Inflorescences mostly terminal, variable. Flowers bisexual, yellow to orange [or rarely white]. Sepals and petals usually 5, sometimes gland-dotted. Stamens usually basally united in 3–5 bundles; anthers with a small apical gland. Ovary mostly 3–5-locular, or partly or completely 1-locular, with 3–5 parietal intruding placentas bearing numerous ovules.

Fruit a 3–5-valved septicidal capsule or berry; seeds many, minute.

Photo L. von Richter

Distribution and occurrence: World: c. 490 spp,, mainly temperate regions. Australia: c. 18 spp. (c. 16 naturalised, including 1 hybrid), all States.

Many European and Asian species are cultivated as ornamentals; some have become garden escapes and environmental weeds. Many species have chemical medicinal properties and have been used in traditional folk medicine; some contain toxins that can cause poisoning in livestock.

There is variability in the native plants currently identified as Hypericum gramineum and H. japonicum in Australia, and in light of preliminary morphological and molecular investigations there is the possibility of new taxa, the misapplication of names, hybridisation of taxa, etc.

Reference: Robson, N.K.B. (2016). And then came molecular phylogenetics - reactions to a monographic study of Hypericum (Hypericaceae). Phytotaxa 255: 181-198. Further information on the genus can be found at "Hypericum online" at

Text by C. Miller, Flora of NSW Vol. 1 (1990); edited K.L. Wilson (February 2007); P.G. Kodela (April 2017)
Taxon concept: Australian Plant Census (accessed April 2017)

Taxa not yet included in identification key
Hypericum calycinum,    Hypericum patulum

 Key to the species 
1Herbs, erect to mat-forming, ± woody at base; flowers usually <10 mm across2
Erect or decumbent shrubs, at least woody at the base; largest leaves 10–90 mm long; flowers mostly >10 mm across4
2Hairy herb, semi-aquatic; leaves broad-ovate to circular, 5–30 mm long, 5–20 mm wideHypericum elodes
Glabrous herbs, in well-drained soils or damp sites; leaves ovate to oblong or ovate to lanceolate, 2–13 mm long, 1–-4 mm wide
                       Back to 1
3Prostrate to decumbent herb, forming mats 2–15 cm high; all leaves hardly stem-clasping, margins flat or undulateHypericum japonicum
Erect herb, 10–40 cm high; floral leaves tend to be stem clasping, margins ± revolute
                       Back to 2
Hypericum gramineum
4Sepals 4, outer pair much longer than the inner and enclosing the fruit; petals 4; styles 2; stamens in a continuous ringHypericum hypericoides
Sepals 5, ± equal, not enclosing the fruit; petals 5; styles 3 or 5: stamens in bundles of 3 or 5
                       Back to 1
5Sepals and petals equal, 6–12 mm long; fruit an indehiscent fleshy berry, purple to black when ripe, 7–10 mm longHypericum androsaemum
Petals 2–3 times as long as the sepals; fruit a dehiscent capsule, red or brown when ripe
                       Back to 4
6Styles 5, ovary 5-locular; leaves and sepals ovate; capsule 5-valved, smooth, dark red, not sticky, usually >10 mm long7
Styles 3, ovary 3-locular; leaves and sepals ± lanceolate to linear; capsule 3-valved, striate, brown, often sticky, <10 mm long
                       Back to 5
Hypericum perforatum
7Sepals 7–10 mm long; stamens in 3 bundlesHypericum kouytchense
Sepals 5–6 mm long: stamens in 5 bundles
                       Back to 6
Hypericum bellum

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