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St. Andrews Cross

Q:  Can you identify this shrub for me?  I found it in the woods behind my house and it is really a small shrub.

A:  The clipping you brought into the office along with your photos made the identification a little easier.  This yellow flower belongs to the St. Johns’ wort family and your plant is most likely St. Andrew’s cross, Hypericum hypericoides.  It is found throughout most of the states east of the Mississippi river; as far north as New York state and native to these areas.

This low shrub with a thin, open, upright growth habit is common in dry woods.  It looks very similar to Hypericum stragulum, and to make things even more confusing this plant is also called St. Andrew’s cross.  But the leaves on this shrub are wider at the top.  Both plants have four narrow petals of the bright yellow flowers which form a cross hence the name – St. Andrew’s cross.

This low shrub is fairly common in dry woods where it prefers partial sun. St. Andrew’s cross tolerates most any type of well-drained soil.  It can be propagated by seed and generally takes 1 – 3 months to germinate.  When the seedlings are large enough to handle plant them in the ground sometime in late spring once the threat of frosts are over. If they become overgrown and division is required it is best to separate the shrub in the spring.