is an attractive
perennial herb that makes a nice border or edging. It is
cultivated mostly for medicinal purposes, but the leaves can be used sparingly
in green salads, marinades and stews. The flowers can be blue, red, or
white, depending on the type.
Because of its strong, camphor-like smell, Hyssop is known mainly as a cleansing
herb. Interestingly, the name is mentioned in the Bible, but it is not
clear whether or not this is the same plant we see today. However, the
volatile oil of Hyssop is used today as a key ingredient in some liquors,
including Benedictine and Chartreuse.
The leaves and flowers of Hyssop have a licorice-minty taste, and indeed this
plant is related to the Mints.
The leaves and seeds can be used to flavor green salads, poultry stuffings (with
sage), chicken soup, and can be dried for use in teas.
Hyssop germinates rapidly and adapts readily to being grown in containers.
It prefers warm and rather dry soil. After flowering, it should be cut
back to ground level in the fall. It can be started from seed, cuttings,
or division. Prune occasionally to remove flower heads. Harvest only
green plant matter, because woody parts have little characteristic oil.
Bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds love this plant, and this alone makes it a
valuable addition to the herb garden. It also has merit as a companion
plant for other herbs and vegetables. Please see
Companion Planting for more information. Hang bunches upside down in a warm,
dry place and store the dried plant in tightly covered containers.