It's St. John's Wort (Klamath Weed) season!
St John's Wort, hypericum perforatum, is typically harvested around the Summer Solstice. This year on summer solstice the St John's Wort flowers were not quite in full bloom yet. It is best to pick flowers when they are first bloomed. I also like to remind myself and others that perfection can get of the way of action. So if I come across plants that have some blooms already spent, I still use that bunch. You can cut off older flowers if that is important to you. When you harvest make sure you are not taking the whole bunch. Leave a minimum of 2/3 of the stand of plants and if its not even for your harvest then move on to another bunch. Do not over harvest these plants or any wild-crafted plant. If you do so, there will be none for anyone to harvest next year. They reseed themselves each year and if there are no flowers present, there will be no seeds as well.
St Johns Wort, is a medicinal plant used traditionally as a wound healer, mood lifter and for treating minor burns. Klamath weed is another name for this local plant. I rather like the name Klamath weed as it does not reference the christian saint. Hypericum is found along paths, side roads and train tracks. It likes cool shady areas and likes to grow in stands. Once you start looking for it it's easy to find in the PNW. It grows to about 24 inches and has bright yellow flowers. The primary indication that you have the right plant is the tiny little dots on the leaves.
I love harvesting this plant because when you make medicine with the yellow flowers and green leaves, the medicine turns this bright and beautiful red color. I like to harvest in the mornings before the heat of summer sets in. We harvest everything above the ground. I typically only harvest the top six-to-ten inches that includes the flowers (like the bunch in the picture above.)
I also like to think about how much medicine I will actually use in a year. Sometimes I make four or eight ounces of a tincture. This year I am making four cups of infused oil because I am using this medicine in my hands-on healing practice. I think it's important to not over harvest these precious plant medicines.
There are many plants that look like Klamath weed also know as St John's Wort or Hypericum. Consult botanical resources to confirm plant identification before using any plant medicine.
Once the jar is filled with chopped plant material, you would pour oil over it if you are making an infused oil until the plant material is covered. Since Hypericum is a great topical healer I often use it in this format. As a mood lifter, It might be better to make a tincture with an alcohol or glycerin base. I like to leave my infusions and tinctures for a few months before I use them. Many medicine makers use them after one month. I like to store them in a cool dark cupboard. It's a fantastic reminder of summer to come across this gorgeous oil as the season turns towards darkness.
Once you are ready to strain out the menstruum (ie., the liquid (solvent) and the plant material), I use a metal strainer and some cheese clothes. The cheese cloth is really helpful becasue you want to get every last drop of that precious medicine.
Its a good idea to store your medicine in a glass jar, in a dark and cool place. If you plan to use your medicine as a wound or burn healer you may want to make just a few ounces and put it into