Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis)



Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis) is a herbaceous or semi-woody flowering plant in the family Lamiaceae. Hyssop is native from the east Mediterranean to central Asia. Hyssop is commonly used as an aromatic herb and medicinal plant, due to its antiseptic, cough reliever, and expectorant properties.

Hyssop, 30-60 cm tall, is a herbaceous and brightly colored shrub and subshrub. It has woody stem with a number of erect branches, and dark green leaves that are lanceolate and 2-2.5 cm long. In summer, fragrant flowers of pink, blue, or white color are borne, follow by small oblong achenes. Hyssop is harvested twice yearly, once in late spring and once at the beginning of autumn. It is preferably harvested when flowering in order to collect the flowering tips. Hyssop attracts bees, hoverflies and butterflies. It is a favorite plant to beekeepers, for producing a rich and aromatic honey.

Once harvested, the stalks are dried either stacked on pallets to allow for draining, or hung to dry. The drying process usually takes place in a cool, dry and well-ventilated area, and drying herbs are kept from exposure to sun to prevent discoloration and oxidation. The whole drying process takes about 6 days. Once dried, the leaves are removed and both components are chopped finely. Dried herbs can be stored up to 18 months.

Fresh hyssop is commonly used in cooking, while the essence of hyssop can be obtained by steaming. The leaves have a lightly bitter taste due to its tannins, and an intense minty aroma, and are used moderately in cooking. The leaves are used as an aromatic condiments, and also to flavor liqueur, and are part of the official formulation of Chartreuse, a French liqueur.

Hyssop contains thujone and phenol chemicals, which give it antiseptic properties, and has been used in the formulation of mouthwash and eye drops. This herb is known to stimulate the gastrointestinal system, and is sometimes used as a herbal remedy for HIV type I.

Propagation is by seeds, cuttings or root division in spring or autumn. Hyssop grows well in full sun and well-drained soil, and occasional clipping. The plants need to be replaced every few years and it is ideal as a low hedge or border within the herb garden.

Hyssopus officinalisHyssopus officinalis
Author: H. Zell (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0-unported)

Flowers of Hyssopus officinalisFlowers of Hyssopus officinalis
Author: H. Zell (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0-unported)

Flowers of Hyssopus officinalisFlowers of Hyssopus officinalis
Author: H. Zell (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0-unported)

Flowers of Hyssopus officinalisFlowers of Hyssopus officinalis
Author: H. Zell (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0-unported)

Flowers of Hyssopus officinalisFlowers of Hyssopus officinalis
Author: H. Zell (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0-unported)

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