Also Known As: Hyssop, Herb Hyssop
Hyssop (Hyssopus) is a genus of about 10-12 species of herbaceous or semi-woody plants in the family Lamiaceae, native from the east Mediterranean to central Asia. They are aromatic, with erect branched stems up to 60 cm long covered with fine hairs at the tips. The leaves are narrow oblong, 2â€“5 cm long. The small blue flowers are borne on the upper part of the branches during summer. By far the best-known species is the Herb Hyssop (H. officinalis), widely cultivated outside its native area in the Mediterranean.
Note that anise hyssop, Agastache foeniculum (also called blue giant hyssop), is a very different plant and not a close relation, although both are in the mint family. Anise hyssop is native to much of north-central and northern North America.
Hyssop is used as an ingredient in eau de Cologne and the liqueur Chartreuse. It is also used to color the spirit Absinthe, along with Melissa and Roman wormwood. Hyssop is also used, usually in combination with other herbs such as liquorice, in herbal remedies, especially for lung conditions. The essential oils of hyssop can cause fatal convulsions in rats, and may not be as safe as most people believe.