The genus Hypericum has received considerable interest from scientists, as it is a source of a variety of biologically active compounds including the hypericins. The present study was conducted to determine ontogenetic, morphogenetic and diurnal variation of the total hypericins content in some species of Hypericum growing in Turkey namely, Hypericum aviculariifolium subsp. depilatum var. depilatum (endemic), Hypericum perforatum and Hypericum pruinatum. The Hypericum plants were harvested from wild populations at vegetative, floral budding, full flowering, fresh fruiting and mature fruiting stages four times a day. Plants were dissected into stem, leaf and reproductive tissues, which were dried separately, and subsequently assayed for total hypericin content. The density of dark glands on leaves at full flowering plants was determined for each species. Floral parts had the highest hypericin content in all species tested. But diurnal fluctuation in the hypericin content of whole plant during the course of ontogenesis varied among the species. It reached the highest level at floral budding and tended to increase at night in H. aviculariifolium subsp. depilatum var. depilatum and H. pruinatum, whereas in H. perforatum hypericin content was the highest at full flowering and no diurnal fluctuation was observed. In general, hypericin content of leaves and whole plant was higher in H. aviculariifolium subsp. depilatum var. depilatum whose leaves had more numerous dark glands than those of the two other species. (c) 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.