St. Andrew’s Cross named after Disciple’s legend

ST. ANDREW’S CROSS Hypericum hypericoides

ST. ANDREW’S CROSS
Hypericum hypericoides

By Orrin Morris

Andrew was a disciple of John the Baptist and was present when Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River. When John announced Jesus’ presence to the crowd saying, “Behold, the Lamb of God,” Andrew followed Jesus and became His first disciple  (John 1:36).

Very little attention is given to Andrew today, but it was Andrew who introduced Simon Peter to Jesus (John 1:40-41).  It was Andrew who introduced Jesus to the boy with a lunch that Jesus used to feed the five thousand (John 6:8). It was Andrew who, with Philip, brought some Greeks to Jesus (John 12:22).

Legend states that Andrew was martyred on an X-shaped cross. That tradition is the basis for the naming of the wildflower we examine here. However, we will contrast it to another related wildflower named after the disciple John, who authored the book that recorded Andrew’s activities noted above.

St. Andrew’s Cross is in the St. Johnswort family but is without a medicinal history.  This plant is short, ranging from 6 to 18 inches tall. It has a woody stem with many branches and a distinctly shaped flower.

St. Andrew’s Cross has four unequal sepals, four oblong petals, numerous stamens and one pistil. The configuration of the petals, as seen in the sketch, is believed to be similar to the cross on which Andrew was martyred. The yellow blooms measure about 5/8 inch and appear at the end of each branch.

St. Andrew’s Cross blooms from July to September.  It can be found in sandy soil, often amid St. Johnswort, if in a dry area.

St. Johnswort (H. perforatum) is taller, 12 to 30 inches tall, and grows in open woods, thickets, along fences and roadsides. It has a yellow five-petal, 3/4-inch blossom and many stamens. The pistil has three styles.

The leaves are oblong and have translucent or black dots. These dots contain an oil that is believed to cure many ailments associated with sleep problems.

May the examples of both of these disciples inspire us to share the good news of God’s love through deed and word, even if risk is involved.

Rev. Orrin Morris is a retired Baptist minister and artist.  Please see our Contributors page for more information on how to purchase Orrin’s books on wildflowers and faith.

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