Anise hyssop is a feast for the senses: beautiful to look at, and you only need to touch the plant to release the fascinating liquorice fragrance.
Anise hyssop (botanical name Agastache foeniculum) is a mint-like herb with leaves that taste of aniseed and smell like liquorice. Bees and butterflies particularly love the plant, and it also attracts other insects. Anise hyssop grows to a height of 80 to 100 cm, and flowers from June to September with lipped flowers in dense spikes. The most common colours are lilac to indigo (these smell like liquorice); the plants with pink and orange flowers smell more like fruit. In the autumn the exhausted flowers are a great attraction for small birds, that pick the seeds out of the wilted flower spikes.
Anise hyssop is a member of the mint family, and grows in the prairies of North America. There are some 22 known species. Native Americans used the plants to treat a variety of disorders. The plant was probably brought to Europe by explorers.
- The leaves of organically grown anise hyssop can be used to make aniseed-flavoured herbal tea. The flowers are also edible, for instance as garnish in a salad.
- However, the plant is not actually used to make liquorice.
- The botanical name Agastache is derived from the Greek words 'ágan' (many) and 'stákhus' (spike) and refers to the rich flowering in spikes.
- In the language of flowers and plants anise hyssop represents sacrifice and purification.