St. Andrew’s Cross – Flowers

(Ascyrum hypericoides) St. John’s-wort family

(A. Crux-Andreae of Gray)

Flowers—Yellow, 1/2 to 3/4 in. across, terminal and from the leaf axils. Calyx of 4 sepals in 2 pairs ; 4 narrow, oblong petals; stamens numerous ; 2 styles. Stem : Much branched and spreading from base, 5 to 10 in. high, leafy. Leaves: Opposite, oblong, small, seated on stem.

Preferred Habitat—Dry, sandy soil ; pine barrens.

Flowering Season—July—August.

Distribution—Nantucket Island (Mass.), westward to Illinois, south to Florida and Texas.

Because the four pale yellow petals of this flower approach each other in pairs, suggesting a cross with equals arms, the plant was given its name by Linnaeus in 1753. St. Peter’s-wort (A. stans), a similar plant, found in the same localities, in bloom at the same time, has larger flowers in small clusters at the tips only of its upright branches.