Hypericum ellipticum (Pale St. John's-wort)

Plant Info
Also known as: Elliptic-leaved St. John's-wort, Creeping St. John's-wort
Family:Hypericaceae (St. John's-wort)
Life cycle:perennial
Habitat:part shade, sun; moist sandy soil; shorelines, marshes, streambanks, wet ditches
Bloom season:July - August
Plant height:9 to 24 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: none MW: OBL NCNE: OBL
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 5-petals Cluster type: panicle

[photo of flower] Few flowered clusters at the tips of stem and lateral branches. The bright yellow, star-like flowers are about ½ inch across with 5 narrowly elliptic petals and a fountain-like spray of yellow stamens and three united styles in the center. Sepals are oblong to lance-like and slightly shorter than the petals. Both sepals and petals occasionally count four or six. Flowers are nearly stalkless.

Leaves and stems: Leaf attachment: opposite Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] Leaves are simple, opposite and stalkless, oval to elliptic, ½ to 1¼ inches long and 1/3 as wide, toothless, hairless, tapering evenly to the stem, and rounded to blunt at the tip. Tight clusters of smaller leaves are often in the axils, Stems are hairless, somewhat 4-angled, erect and mostly unbranched except for a few branches in the flower cluster.

Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod

[photo of developing fruit] Fruit is an upright, oval capsule about 1/6 inch long, rounded at the tip into a short beak, turning dark purplish red as it matures.


Pale St. John's-wort is one of seven St. John's-worts found in Minnesota and, outside of one population near Pike's Bay in Cass County, entirely restricted to the Arrowhead. It should be easily distinguished from any of the other Hypericums by its flower size: twice as large as Northern St. John's-wort (H. boreale) and Larger Canadian St. John's-wort (H. majus), and much smaller than Great St. John's-wort (H. pyramidatum), Common St. John's-wort (H. perforatum) and Kalm's St. John's-wort (H. kalmii). It also differs from Spotted St. John's-wort (H. punctatum) (which is almost entirely restricted to SE MN) by a lack of dark glandular spots on the leaves, and flower clusters which are also much denser. The highly invasive non-native Common St. John's-wort that is invading its range also has clear, glandular dots throughout its foliage. The leaves of Pale St. John's-wort also lack the prominent veins from the base that some other species have.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka and Peter M. Dziuk taken at Crosby-Manitou State Park in Lake County.


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