Hyssop is a bushy herbaceous plant from the mint family that grows 1 to 2 feet in height. Several straight branches grow up from the woody base. The dark green leaves are lance-shaped. Spikes filled with bunches of flowers bloom in pink, blue, or (more rarely) white.
There are many varieties of Hyssopus, this post is specifically about Hyssopus officinalis.
Botanical Name: Hyssopus officinalis
Common/Folk Names: Hyssop, Isopo, Ysopo, and Yssop
Life Cycle: perennial
Habitat: sunny, warm areas; native to Southern Europe, the Middle East, and the region surrounding the Caspian Sea
Blooms: summer through fall
Smell: flowers are fragrant and sweet; leaves are minty
Taste: leaves are slightly bitter and minty, flowers are minty, floral, and quite bitter (The different varieties of hyssop have different tastes.)
- Agastache foeniculum, anise hyssop or blue giant hyssop, is a different plant altogether, although it’s also in the mint family.
- Hyssop contains ketones in minuscule quantities. As a result, the essence is toxic in high doses, causing epileptic attacks in those predisposed to them.
- Hyssop has been used as an antiseptic, cough reliever, and expectorant. It has also been used to treat respiratory conditions such as influenza, sinus infections, colds, and bronchitis. Other treatments include external use for burns and bruises.
- Hyssop oil has been diffused in sickrooms to help control germs and clear the air.
- It’s used mostly as a tea, but can also be used as an extract, oil, or capsule.
- Hyssop is used to flavor liqueur, such as Absinthe, Chartreuse, and Benedictine.
- For culinary use, hyssop is used in broths and decoctions. It’s also added to salads.
- Hyssop has been use since classical antiquity and is an official Herb of Antiquity.
- The word hyssop appears in some translations of the Bible; however, researchers believe that they are not referring to modern hyssop but rather a different herb entirely (Origanum syriacum).
- Burning hyssop will assist in communing with dragons.
- Hanging hyssop in house windows and doors will cleanse and protect the home from harmful spirits.
- Hyssop can be carried or worn in sachets to protect oneself from negativity.
- Spells and rituals use hyssop for purification and protection. Adding hyssop to a ritual will help break hexes and curses.
In the Language of Flowers, it means: sacrifice, cleanliness
This is a reference for fiction writers and should not be taken as medical or spiritual advice.
A Modern Herbal by Margaret Grieve
image by Isidre blanc, Wikipedia.org
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