Herb of the Year: Anise Hyssop

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Anise Hyssop, Agastache foeniculum (sometimes called anise hyssop, or blue giant hyssop), is an upright, clump-forming perennial of the mint family that is native to much of North America (Zone: 4 to 8). Despite the common name, it is not closely related to hyssop (Hyssopus spp.), a European plant traditionally used as a healing herb, or anise, Pimpinella anisum, a completely different plant in the carrot family (Apiaceae).

Anise hyssop grows in full sun to partial shade. It tolerates a wide range of soils but needs good drainage. It gains a height between 2 to 4 feet and can spread to 1 to 3 feet. The showy lavender or purple flowers bloom from June to September. This plant has no significant pest problems, but may develop root rot in wet soils or powdery mildew and leaf spots in humid climates. It is tolerant of drought and considered deer resistant though not rabbit resistant.
 Anise Hyssop
Often used as a border for wildflower, herb and butterfly gardens, Anise Hyssop is a beautiful addition to any garden landscape. Anise Hyssop self-seeds readily. Though the flowers are unscented, this is very attractive plant to a variety of pollinators including bees, butterflies and hummingbirds and as such is sometimes called a ‘pollinator magnet’.

The anise or licorice scented leaves can be used as a seasoning, as a tea, in potpourri, and can be crumbled in a salad, or made into herbal jelly. The seeds can be added to cookies or muffins. Dried leaves can be used for potpourris as well. Since the purple blossoms retain their color when cut and when dried, it is often used for fresh and dried flower arrangements and for all kinds of crafting.

The herb of the year is selected by the International Herb Association. Herbs chosen must be outstanding in two of three categories: medicinal, culinary, or decorative. Herb societies around the world work together to educate the public about these important herbs.

2018's Herb of the Year was Hops
2017's Herb of the Year was Coriander
2016's Herb of the Year was Pepper
2015's Herb of the Year was Savory
2014's Herb of the Year was Artemisia
2013's Herb of the Year was Elder