23 Million Years Ago

Hypericum flower

This is a flower of the Hypericum bush, also known as St Johns Wort. It flowers around the summer solstice on 24 June, which is St. John’s day.

I wonder what the bush is called in the Southern Hemisphere?

The name hypericum comes  from the Greek word ‘hyper,’ meaning ‘above’ and ‘eikon,’ meaning ‘picture, from the tradition of hanging flowers and branches over religious icons on St. John’s Day.

But the fact that gets me the most is that the earliest examples in the plant fossil history date to the early Miocene, which is 23 million years ago.

So here I am, walking along and I spot a pretty flower and photograph it. And its relative was around 23 million years ago.

I know there are more extreme examples – for example the Ginko Biloba trees in the park a few hundred yards from that spot.

Ginko Biloba appeared about 290 million years ago.

But they are trees and they look old, with their fan-shaped leaves that mark them out as ‘different’.

But the Hypericum are these pretty yellow flowers, and I pass them without a thought to the staggering age that they have been around.


  1. John says:

    So amazing!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Tamara says:

    Lovely flower — and my, what a staggering number of years ago indeed!! I cannot really fathom it, but I’m trying… And all the more reason why this Earth must be saved from the catastrophic climate crisis in which it is embroiled…. Fascinating about ginkgo biloba trees too! Can’t blame them for not looking “forever young,” eh?


    1. There’s a winding elevated path in the Botanic Garden that marks off the periods when plants appeared on Earth. Perhaps we can walk that path next time we go…


  3. Joan E. Miller says:

    We have both species here in the U.S. too. I knew the ginkgo was ancient, but didn’t know about the flower. I’ll note that we have “horsetail” here, which is also a relict of millions of years ago, and the cycad can be found in Australia, which is also one of the oldest plants.


    1. Horsetail is here in the UK also. It’s one of the oldest plants, isn’t it? I used to have a book on how to live in the countryside from the things around, and horsetail was recommended for scouring pans because of its high silica content.


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