Is anyone else out there growing Hyssop? I’m relatively new to it so here are my findings from a bit of reading.
Hyssopus officinalis, or Hyssop as it is more commonly known is a herbaceous plant native to Southern Europe and the Middle East. It is part of the mint family and it has bright blue clusters of flowers which grow on one side of the stem. My plant is Hyssopus officinalis Roseus which you can see from its pink colouring. Its name derives from the Hebrew ‘adobe’ or ‘ezob’, which literally means “holy herb”. It has been used for millennia as a holy herb, consecrated for cleaning holy places as well as being hung in homes to provide protection from ‘the evil eye’ and from witches. It was mentioned in the Bible however there is conflicting evidence as to whether this Biblical Hyssop is actually “H. officinalis.”.
The ancient use of this plant was as an insecticide, insect repellent, and lice killer. It was also used as a fragrance for toiletries and as a flavouring for liqueurs, sauces and numerous desserts.
These days it is used mainly in the kitchen. I had not heard of it until I started on the allotment as it isn’t the most common of herbs. You can use the young leaves in salads as well as a flavouring for soups and stuffing or in meat or oily fish dishes. Use it sparingly however as it is quite intense and not the most appealing of flavours when concentrated. It is extremely perfumed in a similar way to lavender and it is quite bitter. This bitterness lends well to its use as an ingredient in liquors such as Benedictine and Chartreuse. Its leaves can be dried and consumed as a tea and it is said to aid the digestion of fatty or rich foods.
It has medicinal properties as an expectorant and an antiseptic and some believe that it is good for treating asthma, urinary tract infections and appetite stimulation.
From an allotment point of view its flowers are great at attracting bees and butterflies to the garden. It is also great for protecting Brassicas which is the main reason I decided to buy it! The plant is also used by beekeepers to produce a rich and aromatic honey.
It is beautiful, easy to grow anywhere as long as it has good drainage and grows in a nice neat upright style making it great for brightening up borders.