botanical name Hypericum androsaemum
how to say it hy-PAIR-i-kum an-dro-SAY-mum
common names Tutsan, St. John’s wort
care and handling
STEP 1 Unpack Hypericum immediately upon arrival in your store, and check the quality. If you cannot attend to these flowers promptly, place the shipping box in a floral refrigerator.
STEP 2 Remove any sleeves or stem bindings, as well as any foliage from the lower portions of the stems that would be under water in storage containers.
STEP 3 Recut stem ends at an angle with a clean, sharp blade, removing at least 1 inch of stem.
STEP 4 Immediately after cutting, dip or place the stem ends into a hydration solution to help the flowers take up nutrient solution more quickly.
STEP 5 Following the hydration solution treatment, place Hypericum stems into sterile storage containers partially filled with properly proportioned flower- food solution prepared with cool or cold water.
STEP 6 After processing, place Hypericum into a floral cooler at 36 F to 40 F for at least two hours before arranging or selling them.
■ Select bunches that have firm, glossy, fully colored berries; firm, dark-green and blemish-free foliage; and young (not too woody) stems.
■ Check fruit (berries) for blackening or skin collapse, examing foliage for blemishes caused by disease or insects, and avoid bunches with stems that are turning yellow.
WHAT’S IN A NAME 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).
HOME SWEET HOME These botanicals are native to the Mediterranean region of Europe, northern Africa and the Middle East, into western Asia.
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 for the cut-flower industry.
OVER THE COUNTER Some 2,400 years ago, Hippocrates recommended Hypericum/ St. John’s wort 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. In the U.S., Hypericum/ St. John’s wort is sold as a dietary supplement for which health-benefit claims cannot legally be made. n