It is a woody, dark green plant whose fragrant blooms are hues of purples, pinks, and sometimes white and are attractive to pollinating insects. Beekeepers report that it results in a rich, aromatic honey. Hyssop plant grow from one to two feet in height. If maintained and kept trimmed, it makes a nice border planting.
Since it contains tannins, it does have a bitter taste but is essence is used sparingly for culinary purposes as a flavoring agent. An extract of its essential oils are highly aromatic and is used in the perfume industry. Reportedly, it is also one of the secret ingredients of Chartreuse, the herbal liqueur produced by the Carthusian Monks near Grenoble, France.
Hyssop is a hardy perennial in USDA zones 3 to 9 but may require replacing every four to five years. Each packet contains 0.1 gram, which is approximately 90 seeds.
A native to Southern Europe and into the Middle East, Hyssop has been used medicinally since ancient times. When used as a gargle or in lozenge form, its antiseptic properties are said to help relieve sore throats. An infusion or tea can be used to aide in poor digestion as well as coughs due to colds and congestion. A decoction can be used to wash and cleanse burns as well as mild abrasions and skin irritations. Crushed leaves were applied directly to wounds to draw out infection and promote healing.
Preparation: Infusions are made using two teaspoons of dried herb for every cup of water. To make a decoction, the ratio is one teaspoon of fresh herb to each cup of water. If you find the flavor unpleasant, honey can be used to sweeten. Sip mouthfuls at a time and don't exceed one to two cups per 24-hour period.
Precautions: Do not use continuously for long periods of time. Seek the advice of medical professionals for serious medical conditions and if symptoms persist.
- "A Modern Herbal," Mrs. M. Grieve, 1931, p. 426-427.
- It also has the botanical synonym of Hyssopus decumbens.
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