Hypericum hypericoides ssp. multicaule (Michx. ex Willd.) N. Robson
St. Andrew's Cross
CC = 8
CW = 3
MOC = 47
Family - Hypericaceae
Habit - Perennial shrub to 30 cm tall.
Stems - Woody, sprawling to erect, much branched, multiple from base. Bark reddish brown, smooth, peeling in thin strips or flakes. Twigs angled or ridged below each leaf, reddish brown, the older stems usually angled below each leaf, glabrous.
Leaves - Opposite, simple, decussate, sessile, obscurely jointed just above the base, more or less evergreen. Leaf blades 5-35 mm long, 2-8 mm wide, oblanceolate, rounded to bluntly pointed at the tip, tapered or narrowed at the base (sometimes with a pair of minute, rounded lobes at the jointed base), the margins often slightly rolled under at maturity, herbaceous to somewhat leathery in texture, with 1 main vein visible (sometimes difficult to observe), the surfaces with minute resinous dots, these yellowish brown to dark green or nearly black, the upper surface green, the undersurface slightly paler, not glaucous.
Inflorescences - Usually of solitary flowers at the branch tips and upper leaf axils, occasionally with small clusters of 3 flowers at the branch tips. Pedicels to 3 mm long. Flowers subtended by pair of brown attenuate bracts to 2 mm long.
Flowers - Zygomorphic. Sepals 2 or 4, usually with minute, yellowish brown to dark green or black resinous dots, the outer pair 5.0-12.5 mm long, becoming somewhat enlarged at fruiting, broadly ovate to narrowly elliptic, rounded to shallowly cordate at the base; the inner pair absent or 1-4 mm long, lanceolate to narrowly lanceolate. Petals 4, grouped into 2 pairs, 6-11 mm long, narrowly oblong-elliptic to narrowly obovate or less commonly obovate, pale yellow to lemon yellow, lying flat on large sepals below, shed before fruiting. Stamens 35-50, the filaments not fused into groups. Ovary superior, flattened-ovoid, 3 mm long, 1.5 mm broad at base, glabrous, from 2 carpels but 1-locular, the placentation parietal. Styles 2, free above the base, somewhat spreading or curved outward, the stigmas minute.
Fruits - Capsules 5-9 mm long, elliptic-ovoid, widest at or slightly below the midpoint, tapered abruptly to the short beaks, flattened and thus narrowly elliptic in cross-section. Seeds numerous, 0.6-0.8 mm long, the surface with fine longitudinal lines, these sometimes forming a faint network, dark brown to purplish brown.
Flowering - July - October.
Habitat - Forests, streambanks, pond margins, roadsides, open, disturbed areas, usually on acidic substrates.
Origin - Native to the U.S.
Other info. - This plant is found in the southern half of Missouri. Its range begins in eastern Oklahoma and extends eastward in a broad band through Missouri and continuing nearly to the Atlantic Coast. The plant is easy to identify by its distinctive flowers, which have two opposing pairs of petals arranged in a flattened "X" pattern. The stems are woody, with older ones having reddish shredding bark. Usually only a few (if any) flowers are present, rather than a showy display. The plant is usually found in areas of acidic substrate.
Photographs taken in the Ozark Scenic Riverways, Shannon County, MO., 7-1-03 and 7-7-04 (DETenaglia); also at Crowley's Ridge Conservation Area, Stoddard County, MO, 7-17-2009, LaBarque Creek Conservation Area, Jefferson County, MO, 8-22-2010, St. Francois State Park, St. Francois County, MO, 7-9-2020, and Taum Sauk State Park, Iron County, MO, 8-4-2020 (SRTurner).