Friday, July 19, 2013

St John's Wort - Hypericum Perforatum - Millepertuis Perforé

St John's wort, hypericum perforatum (fr: millepertuis perforé) is another introduced species which now flourishes at the lake. It is a fairly well-known herbal antidepressant. It's worth noting here that herbal antidepressant just means it contains neurotransmitter reuptake inhibitors and it's an herb, not that plants are magical and better than proper pharmaceuticals. Dosage is inexact with herbs (as opposed to pill-form SSRIs, which have dosage controlled) so I wouldn't recommend that everybody go running out to make St John's wort tinctures. At least in Canada, measured doses of St John's wort extract are available over the counter anyway, so if you want to try it go try that. Disclaimer: talk to your doctor, St John's wort interacts with a number of common medications (eg oral contraceptives) in ways that can be extremely bad for you. Self-medication is dangerous, talk to your doctor or pharmacist about this option.

H. perforatum inflorescence
This flower isn't always easy to spot; it tends to grow close to goldenrod at the lake, and the two have a very similar colour while goldenrod is generally taller, making it a tough spot at the lake. The plant itself is very easy to identify, however; I've never seen anything else that looks like it growing at the lake, so if it looks like this it's probably St John's wort.

H. perforatum inflorescence up close
I love the form of the filaments & anthers on this flower. It's like a koosh ball cut in half. It's a very wibbly (I swear that's a word) sort of flower. Pretty and delicate, with the perfect rich golden colour that I'm glad has come out here very well. It's not a very large flower, at least at the lake; usually 1-2 cm across.

I'm making big changes to my life right now. My anthem right now is Chris Hadfield's rendition of Space Oddity because to me this is an incredible symbol of the triumph of the human spirit and human innovation. Decades ago, this song was sung looking up at the stars from Earth; now Chris Hadfield has sung it back to Earth from the stars. That's so incredible I have a hard time believing it sometimes. Also, I've never gotten over the childhood hero-worship I had for astronauts. Astronauts are incredible people; if my eyes didn't suck I would have tried to become one myself (but you need to be not totally useless in an emergency if you can't find your glasses, and my eyes suck without some form of intervention; I discovered the hard truth at 12 years old and I still wish I were eligible for laser eye surgery). Anyway, this song makes me think of just how incredible humanity can be. Steels the guts for hard work.

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