Anise Hyssop is a perennial flower native to North America that has a long bloom duration, showy flowers, and valuable to wildlife. Besides being of great value to bees and pollinators, it is generally deer resistant. Growing to about 2-3′ tall, this wildflower can self-seed heavily, but other then that no real maintenance is required.
Anise Hyssop Facts
- Anise Hyssop’s native range is the upper Midwest/Canada, from
- Although it is a member of the mint family, it is drought resistant. At least much more than other members of the mint family!
- Leaves of Anise Hyssop are very fragrant, while the flowers have almost no scent (at least I can’t smell anything)
- When crushed, the leaves smell like licorice
- Dried leaves can be used for air-freshening like potpourri
- Native Americans used this plant medicinally
- Can be used in several ways for food such as fresh greens to flavor a salad, or tea
- The strong flavor/aroma of the leaves make Anise Hyssop very deer resistant
Anise Hyssop Scientific Name
The Scientific Name of Anise Hyssop is Agastache foeniculum
Anise Hyssop Physical Description and Identification
A herbaceous perennial, Anise Hyssop is 24-36″ tall (60-90 cm) and forms clumps of flowering stalks. For a similar plant that is larger, look to it’s cousin, Purple Giant Hyssop!
Stalk / Stem
The stalks are 4-sided, but not quite square in shape and may branch near the top of the plant. Stalks are a medium green color, and generally smooth (but may have small fine hairs).
Leaves are opposite along the stems and lance-shaped, 2″ wide by 4″ long (5 cm by 10 cm). There will be prominent and frequent veins on the leaf, and the edges are serrated/toothed. When crushed the leaves emit a pleasant smell, which is one of the reasons it has been used for teas for many years.
New growth leaves will have a purple tint, but overall the foliage will look nice until Autumn.
At the top of the stems there will be clusters/spikes of blue/purple flowers about 2-6″ long (5 cm-15 cm). These will be small, somewhat tubular flowers that are only 1/4″-3/8″ long (6-9 mm) that are arrayed around the stalk (whorled).
Anise Hyssop’s blooming period lasts up to two months, with individual flowers blooming at different times throughout that duration.
In Late Summer/Early Fall the spike of flowers will all dry up, and this is when you can collect seeds. Each spent tubular flower will change to a small nutlet or capsule that will produce seeds.
Anise Hyssop forms a taproot and will have rhizomes., So it will spread somewhat to make a clump.
Quick Reference Table
Growing Conditions for Anise Hyssop
Anise Hyssop normally occurs in prairies, dry open woodlands and along the borders of forests. So it’s preference is for partial sun. It can tolerate both medium to slightly-dry conditions. For soil types, it is quite adaptable as long as organic matter is present, being able to grow in loam, clay-loam, and even my own rocky-clay. Although I’ve found it to be slow growing in my rocky-clay soil.
Note – research has shown that droughts/ water stress will increase essential oil production in Anise Hyssop.
How to care for Anise Hyssop
If you plant Anise Hyssop in partial to full sun, with well draining soil it should do fine as long as water is available periodically. But, use your judgement! Any browning/crisping on the margins of the leaf are a sign that it needs some water.
There is occasional damage from insects or slugs, but in general this is just cosmetic.
Anise Hyssop will self-seed in mulched flower beds or disturbed areas. So in the Spring you may wish to pull unwanted seedlings.
How to Grow Anise Hyssop from Seed
Anise Hyssop Seed Planting Depth
The small seeds of Anise Hyssop need light to germinate. So, they should be pressed into the soil and kept moist until germination.
Garden Uses for Anise Hyssop
Anise Hyssop is versatile in that it can look great in a regular mulched flower bed, wildflower garden, or micro-prairie. You could even keep it around for an herb garden if that is your thing.
Anise Hyssop Companion Plants
There are many options when choosing companion plants for Anise Hyssop. Some of my favorites are Partridge Pea or Black-Eyed Susan to give a nice yellow/purple contrast. Or, Wild Bergamot and Echinacea Purpurea to provide even more lavender color! Just make sure you choose plants that enjoy similar growing conditions.
Because of the long blooming period, Anise Hyssop really has a high ecological value for pollinators. Anise Hyssop is heavily visited by bees – mainly bumblebees and other larger bees such as leaf-cutter, digger, and even honey bees. Butterflies and certain pollinator flies also visit Anise Hyssop.
Pests and diseases
Rabbits and Deer generally don’t eat Anise Hyssop due to the strong taste of the leaves. I’ve never noticed any damage to my plants.
Anise Hyssop FAQs
Is Anise Hyssop the Same as Hyssop?
No, they are completely different species. Anise Hyssop is Native to North America and a member of of the mint family, while Hyssop spp is a member of the carrot family and native to Europe.
Can you Eat Anise Hyssop?
Yes, the flowers and leaves of Anise Hyssop are edible. Anise Hyssop is a popular plant within the herbalist community. They have been used for centuries by the Native Americans Medicinally, and used for flavoring too. Due to the strong flavor, they should be used sparingly so as not to overpower your taste buds.
Will Anise Hyssop Spread? Or become invasive?
Like most members of the mint family, Anise Hyssop will spread via underground rhizome roots. So, you may need to pull unwanted shoots in the Spring. Additionally, in good conditions it can spread via self-seeding.
What is Anise Hyssop used for?
Many uses exist for this valuable plant, Anise Hyssop. It is frequently used for flavoring soups, salads, teas. Leaves can be eaten raw or cooked. Leaves from Anise Hyssop have been found to have significant amount of antioxidants. Anise Hyssop can also be used fragrantly by drying the leaves and placing in a small bowl to freshen the air of a room. Essential oils are also extracted from Anise Hyssop. Additionally, Anise Hyssop is cultivated for gardens and by bee keepers.
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