Occurs in a wide variety of habitats, most commonly in stony areas or open grassland. Also near water, in marshy or damp places, between rocks as well as on old lands.
General: A herb, 20 - 50 cm high with a perennial woody underground root system and annual, mostly unbranched, gland-dotted stems.
Leaves: Small, ovate, stalkless, in opposite pairs. Usually dotted with small dark glands.
Flowers: Yellow, with reddish-brown sepals, near the tips of the stems. September - March.
Fruit: A 3-chambered papery capsule, containing many fine seeds.
Photodynamic agent: hypericin. Hypericin is a red-fluorescent pigment contained especially in glands (black dots) in the leaves, stems and petals.
All animal species are affected when the plants are eaten. Horses are especially sensitive. Poisoning is rare, however. Photodermatitis without icterus.
Keep in shade. Symptomatic treatment of the skin. Antihistamines. Corticosteroids.
Colour photos. Final web-ready size: JPEG, 72 ppi. Photo 1: 25.3 kb; Photo 2: 17.8 kb; Photo 3: 25.4 kb, Photo 4: 10.5 kb, Photo 5: 28.4 kb. Original TIFF file housed at the Dept. of Paraclinical Sciences, Section Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Pretoria.