Flax-leaved St John's-wort (Hypericum linariifolium)

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Flax-leaved St John's-wort with flowers and buds
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Flax-leaved St John's-wort fact file

Flax-leaved St John's-wort description

KingdomPlantae
PhylumAnthophyta
ClassMagnoliopsida
OrderTheales
FamilyClusiaceae
GenusHypericum (1)

Flax-leaved St John's-wort (also known as toadflax-leaved St John's-wort) has reddish stems (2), and produces bright yellow flowers (4) with red tinges (2).

Also known as
Toadflax-leaved St John's wort.
Size
Height: 5 - 65 cm (2)
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Flax-leaved St John's-wort biology

This perennial species is often short-lived, and can produce huge quantities of seeds, which need bare patches of earth in order to germinate. Flax-leaved St John's-wort can withstand times of high temperature and drought (3).

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Flax-leaved St John's-wort range

At present, this species persists in England in east Cornwall and south Devon, as well as in Caernarvonshire in Wales (3). Around 90% of the number of flax-leaved St John's-wort plants in Britain are thought to occur in the Dartmoor National Park (4). This species is endemic to Europe, and occurs outside of Britain in oceanic parts of western Europe, including Portugal, Spain, France, Madeira, and the Channel Islands (3).

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Flax-leaved St John's-wort habitat

Inhabits south-facing coastal cliffs, and inland where it is found in open areas typically dominated by bell heather (Erica cinerea) in steep wooded valleys, growing on thin soils over acid rocks (5).

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Flax-leaved St John's-wort status

Classified as Lower Risk- near threatened in Great Britain (3).

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Flax-leaved St John's-wort threats

Scrub growth, particularly of gorse, is known to pose a threat to this species; fire may also cause problems (3). Cross-breeding with trailing St John's-wort (H. humifusum) has been documented, and this may dilute the gene pool of Flax-leaved St John's wort (4).

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Flax-leaved St John's-wort conservation

Plantlife, the wild plant conservation charity, has included flax-leaved St John's-wort in its Back from the Brink Programme (6), and has carried out a national survey of the species (4). At several sites, scrub control and removal has caused this plant to increase in extent (3). Many of the sites in the Dartmoor stronghold are managed by conservation organisations (4).

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Find out more

For more on this species see the Dartmoor Species Action Plan, available at:
http://www.dartmoor-npa.gov.uk/dnp/pubs/bap16.pdf

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Authentication

Information authenticated by Plantlife, the wild plant conservation charity:
http://www.plantlife.org.uk

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Glossary

Endemic
A species or taxonomic group that is only found in one particular country or geographic area.
Perennial
Plants that live for at least three seasons; after an initial period they produce flowers once a year.
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References

  1. National Biodiversity Network Species Dictionary (September 2002) http://www.nhm.ac.uk/nbn/
  2. Stace, C. (1991) New flora of the British Isles. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
  3. Wigginton, M. J. (1999) British Red Data Books 1; Vascular Plants. 3rd Edition. JNCC, Peterborough.
  4. Dartmoor Species Action Plan for flax-leaved St John's-wort (September 2002) http://www.dartmoor-npa.gov.uk/dnp/pubs/bap16.pdf
  5. Byfield, A. (2002) Plantlife. Pers. comm.
  6. Plantlife (September 2002): http://www.plantlife.org.uk
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Image credit

Flax-leaved St John's-wort with flowers and buds  
Flax-leaved St John's-wort with flowers and buds

© Tim Rich

Tim Rich
arkive@wildscreen.org.uk

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