Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Bushy St. John's-wort - Hypericum densiflorum   Pursh
Members of Hypericaceae:
Members of Hypericum with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 6 » Order Theales » Family Hypericaceae
DistributionAn unusual bimodal range in the state. It is found over nearly all of the Mountains, and then is found in the southern 50-60% of the Coastal Plain, north to Dare County. Except for a few records scattered over the eastern Piedmont, it is nearly absent from the Piedmont and the northern Coastal Plain.

This species has a bizarre range appearing as if two species. It occurs in a narrow band from southeastern NY southwesterly through western VA and the mountains to southern AL and western TN. There is an odd disjunction from eastern NC to southern SC. For some odd reason, there are hardly any records for most Piedmont counties nor in the Coastal Plain from northern NC through eastern VA.
AbundanceInfrequent to fairly common in the Coastal Plain, as well as in the Mountains. Very rare outside these two regions. It is seldom common anywhere, but it has been found in nearly all counties in the southern Coastal Plain and mountains.
HabitatThis species -- if only a single species -- has two distinct habitat types. It is mainly a wetland species of Mountain bogs and stream banks and ditches; and in pine savannas and other wetlands in the Coastal Plain. However, it also can be found in shrub balds and other quite dry and typically rocky and exposed forests (perhaps where there is some seepage?).
PhenologyFlowers and fruits from June to August.
IdentificationThis is a medium-sized and widely branched deciduous shrub growing to about 3-5 feet tall. However, it is very similar to several other Hypericum species and thus care must be taken to identify it. Generally it is leaf width that is the key: the opposite leaves are very narrowly elliptical to linear, being about 1-2 inches long but only about 1/5-inch wide (3-7 mm). Hypericum prolificum, which may grow with it in montane uplands, has leaves that are wider, averaging about 1/3-inch (7-15 mm) wide. When in bloom, has its cluster of yellow flowers at the branch tips, whereas H. prolificum has flowers not only at branch tips but also in leaf axils and thus is more “floriferous” when in bloom. In the Coastal Plain, H. galioides has even narrower leaves, almost needle-like. Thus, it may take a bit of practice identifying these linear-leaved bushy shrubs unless or until the leaves are examined carefully and measured.
Taxonomic CommentsWeakley (2015) had this species split into two varieties, but his latest flora (2018) does not list varieties. Narrow-leaved plants mostly of the Ridge-and-Valley in VA, TN, and AL are H. densiflorum var. interior.

Other Common Name(s)Generally none. Though many other Hypericum species are “bushy”, thankfully this name has generally just been applied to H. densiflorum.
State RankS4
Global RankG5
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B.A. SorrieNear Chatooga River, SC, 1999. Photo_non_NCPhoto_non_NC
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