A Writers Guide to Hyssop

hyssop

hyssop

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.

Particulars

Botanical Name: Hyssopus officinalis

Common/Folk Names: Hyssop, Isopo, Ysopo, and Yssop

Life Cycle: perennial
Habitat: sunny, warm areas
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.)

Notes

  • 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.

History

  • 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).

Lore

  • 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.

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References:
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20 Comments

  1. Well, who doesn’t want to talk with dragons?
    Interesting that it’s used as a remedy even though it could also be a poison.

    1. I know! I gonna find me some so I can talk to a dragon. I guess I better find a dragon too.

  2. Hi Holly – the old lore on plants is so interesting … I always relate hyssop to sore throats and colds giving solace for them … cheers Hilary

    1. It’s interesting how widely its used from alcohol flavoring to purifying the home!

  3. It’s a pretty flower. I’d be willing to try it on a salad. Just hope it doesn’t taste like kale.

    1. No kale smoothies for you I take it.

  4. I’ve grown anise hyssop before, but not this. This plant is beautiful. I wonder if it would attract hummingbirds and would it be safe for them. I agree with Hilary, plant lore is so interesting.

    Thoughts in Progress
    and MC Book Tours

    1. I looked it up and it does attract hummingbirds, butterflies too!

  5. I’ll be tossing some on the fire next time we have one! 🙂 Thanks for the fascinating post.

  6. This is interesting. I’ve long associated it more with poison rather than a remedy. Didn’t realize the flowers were so colorful and pretty, either. Thanks for enlightening us. Have a great week! 🙂

  7. Interesting lore. I haven’t seen this plant, but it’s quite lovely.

  8. I like the lore on this one. I’m always up for a boost in positive energy. And communing with dragons??? Dude. I’m all for that. Assuming the dragons don’t eat me. Hmmm.

  9. I’ll remember not to burn any hyssop at my house. My neighborhood association would probably not take kindly to dragons communing at my house.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

  10. Cool info. I’ll get some so I can talk to dragons. Maybe one will edit for me.

  11. I love these posts! If I ever get around to writing the earth magic story that keeps bouncing around my head, your blog is going to be the ultimate reference guide.

  12. Thanks for this, Holly. I always thought it was a poison. I’m surprised it looks so pretty. And always good to have something else that helps us talk to dragons, lol!

  13. Well, I don’t like any kind of mint, but I’m up for talking to dragons and it looks very nice. I like all the lore surrounding plants.

  14. What a complex plant. It’s such a lovely blue it certainly doesn’t look like it would poison anybody. Amazing that it also can be used to treat some illnesses. Thanks for the info!

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