Herbs & Plants

Anise Hyssop

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Botanical Name:Agastache foeniculum
Family : Labiatae
Genus : Agastache

Common Names: Anise Hyssop, Blue giant hyssop

Habitat: Western N. America – Ontario to Washington, south to Colorado.  Dry thickets, fields and waste ground on prairies and plains.Cultivated Beds;

It is a Perennial plant.

This bushy, upright plant forms a nice sized clump and grows up to 90-100 cm tall (3 ft.) on the prairies. It is a member of the mint family with square stems and opposite leaves. The ovate leaves are medium green with a paler green underside. They are 2.5 to 7.5 cm long (1″-3″) with a serrated edge. The 10 cm (4″) lavender flower spikes are made of many small, tubular flowers packed together. Each plant produces a mass of flower spikes which results in a very attractive plant.

This  branching occasionally near the apex. The four-angled stems are glabrous or slightly pubescent. The opposite leaves are up to 4″ long and 2″ across, and have short petioles. They are cordate or broadly lanceolate, with crenate margins. The upper surface of the leaves is conspicuously veined and dull green, while the lower surface is white and finely canescent. The foliage has an anise scent. The upper stems terminate in spikes of flowers about 3-6″ long. The small flowers are arranged in dense whorls that are crowded along the spike, although sometimes the whorls are less crowded and more interrupted. The calyx of a flower is tubular and has five teeth; it is usually dull blue-violet or a similar color, becoming more colorful toward its tips. The tubular flowers are about 1/3″ long, extending beyond the calyx. They are blue-violet. The corolla of a flower is divided into a short upper lip and a longer lower lip. The lower lip has 2 small lateral lobes and a larger central lobe. Exerted from the throat of the flower are 4 stamens with blue-violet anthers, and a style that is cleft toward its tip. The flowers bloom in scattered locations along the spikes for about 1-2 months from mid- to late summer. During this time, calyx of each flower remains somewhat colorful. There is no floral scent. The flowers are replaced by nutlets that oval-shaped and smooth. The root system produces a taproot.

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It is hardy to zone 8 and is not frost tender. It is in flower in July, and the seeds ripen in August. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees. The plant is self-fertile. It is noted for attracting wildlife.
The plant prefers light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and requires well-drained soil. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It requires dry or moist soil.

Prefers a sunny position and a dry well-drained soil. This species is not hardy in the colder areas of the country, it tolerates temperatures down to between -5 and -10°c. The young growth in spring is very susceptible to slug damage. The flowering plants are very attractive to bees and butterflies. There is at least one named variety. ‘Texas American‘ has an anise-pennyroyal fragrance and is used in a similar way to the species.

Seed – sow spring in a greenhouse and only just cover the seed. The seed usually germinates in 1 – 3 months at 13°c. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first year. Plant out in late spring or early summer. Division in spring. Fairly simple, if large divisions are used it is possible to plant them straight out into their permanent positions. Basal cuttings of young shoots in spring. Harvest the young shoots when they are about 10 – 15cm tall and pot them up in a lightly shaded position in a greenhouse. They should root within 3 weeks and can be planted out in the summer or following spring.

Edible Uses
Edible Parts: Leaves.

Edible Uses: Tea.

Leaves and flowers – raw or cooked. They are used as a flavouring in raw or cooked dishes. Excellent raw, they have a sweet aniseed flavour and are one of our favourite flavourings in salads. They make a delicious addition to the salad bowl and can also be used to flavour cooked foods, especially acid fruits.The only drawback to the leaves is that they tend to have a drying effect in the mouth and so cannot be eaten in quantity. A pleasant tasting tea is made from the leaves.The licorice flavoured leaves make fine herbal teas and jellies or can be included fresh in salads.

Medicinal Actions & Uses:-
Cardiac; Diaphoretic; Pectoral; Poultice.

The leaves are cardiac and diaphoretic. An infusion of the leaves is used in the treatment of colds, fevers, weak heart etc. When left to go cold, the infusion is used to treat pains in the chest (such as when the lungs are sore from too much coughing). A poultice of leaves and stems can be used to treat burns.

The root of anise hyssop was an ingredient in North American Chippewa Indian lung formulas, and the Cree sometimes carried the flowers in their medicine bundles. The Cheyenne employed an infusion of the leaves for colds, chest pains from coughing and a weak heart.  The leaves in a steambath were used to induce sweating; and powdered leaves on the body for high fevers.

Disclaimer:The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.


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