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Hyssopus officinalis - L.

Common Name Hyssop
Family Lamiaceae or Labiatae
USDA hardiness 5-10
Known Hazards Volatile oil can cause convulsions. Avoid with epilepsy of fits. Diarrhoea and indigestion rare [301].
Habitats Old walls and buildings, stony places[9, 17]. Dry hills and rock ledges to 2200 metres in Turkey[187].
Range Europe - Mediterranean. Naturalized in Britain.
Edibility Rating    (2 of 5)
Other Uses    (5 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (3 of 5)
Care (info)
Fully Hardy Well drained soil Moist Soil Full sun
Hyssopus officinalis Hyssop

Hyssopus officinalis Hyssop


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Bloom Color: Blue, Pink, Purple, White. Main Bloom Time: Early summer, Early fall, Late summer, Mid summer, Mid fall. Form: Upright or erect

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of shrub
Hyssopus officinalis is an evergreen Shrub growing to 0.6 m (2ft) by 0.6 m (2ft in) at a medium rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 7. It is in leaf all year, in flower from July to September, and the seeds ripen from August to October. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Bees. The plant is self-fertile.
It is noted for attracting wildlife.
Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Thymus hyssopus

Plant Habitats

 Ground Cover; Hedge; Cultivated Beds; East Wall. In. South Wall. In. West Wall. In.

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Flowers  Leaves  Oil  Shoots
Edible Uses: Condiment  Oil

Leaves and young shoot tips - raw or used as a flavouring in soups, salads etc[4, 14, 183]. A strongly aromatic flavour, somewhat like a cross between sage and mint, it has fallen out of favour in recent years[4, 238]. It can be used fresh or dried[21]. Flowers - raw. Added to salads[183]. An essential oil from the plant is used as a food flavouring[183].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

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Antiseptic  Aromatherapy  Astringent  Carminative  Diaphoretic  Emmenagogue  Expectorant  Pectoral  
Stimulant  Stomachic  Tonic  Vasodilator

Hyssop has a long history of medicinal use and was so highly esteemed in the past that it was considered to be a virtual cure-all[254]. Currently an undervalued herb, it is often used as a household remedy, particularly as an expectorant and stomach tonic[4, 254]. It has a positive effect when used to treat bronchitis and respiratory infections, especially where there is excessive mucous production[254]. Hyssop can irritate the mucous membranes, so it is best given after an infection has peaked, when the herb's tonic action encourages a general recovery[254]. The plant should not be used by pregnant women, however, since in large quantities it can induce a miscarriage[7]. The leaves and flowering tops are antiseptic, antitussive, astringent, carminative, diaphoretic, emmenagogue, expectorant, pectoral, sedative, stimulant, stomachic, tonic and vasodilator[4, 7, 9, 21, 165, 238]. The plant can be harvested when in full flower and dried for later use[4]. A tea made from the leaves is used in the treatment of flatulence, stomach-aches, upper respiratory tract infections, coughs in children etc[222, 238]. A poultice made from the fresh herb is used to heal wounds[4, 238]. The essential oil is used in aromatherapy. Its keyword is 'Stability'[210]. This oil should not be used on people who are highly strung as it can cause epileptic symptoms[7, 254]. The essential oil should not be used internally except under professional supervision[254].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Essential  Fungicide  Hedge  Hedge  Oil  Pot-pourri  Repellent  Strewing

Hyssop can be grown as a dwarf hedge, it responds well to trimming in the spring[14, 52, 182]. The growing plant attracts cabbage white butterflies away from brassicas[14, 18, 20]. Another report says that hyssop attracts cabbage white butterflies and should not be grown near cabbages[201]. An essential oil from the leaves is antiseptic and also used in perfumery and as a food flavouring[200, 201]. It has a particularly fine odour and is much valued by perfumers[4]. Average yields of the oil are about 0.6%[7]. Yields from the blue-flowered variety are 1 - 1.5% essential oil, the red-flowered variety yields about 0.8%, whilst the white-flowered form yields 0.5% essential oil[240]. The plant was formerly used as a strewing herb[4, 200] and is also used in pot-pourri[245]. A tea made from the leaves is useful for controlling bacterial plant diseases[201]. Plants can be grown for ground cover when spaced about 45cm apart each way[208].

Special Uses

Attracts Wildlife  Food Forest  Ground cover  Hedge  Hedge  Scented Plants

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Landscape Uses:Border, Specimen. Prefers a light, dry calcareous soil and a sunny position[1, 14, 37, 52]. A very cold-hardy plant, when dormant it can tolerate temperatures down to about -25°c[187]. Hyssop has very aromatic leaves and is commonly grown in the herb garden where it makes a good edging plant to a border[4]. There are some named varieties[183]. The plant needs to be trimmed regularly to keep it in shape, untrimmed plants will soon degenerate. Spring is the best time to trim the plants[238]. It is probably best to replace the plants every few years. The flowers have a rich aromatic fragrance[245]. Hyssop is a very good plant for attracting bees and butterflies to the garden[4, 20]. It is a good companion plant to grow with grapes, but it grows badly with radishes[14, 18, 20]. Special Features:Edible, Fragrant foliage, Not North American native, Naturalizing, Attracts butterflies, Suitable for cut flowers, Suitable for dried flowers, Attractive flowers or blooms. In garden design, as well as the above-ground architecture of a plant, root structure considerations help in choosing plants that work together for their optimal soil requirements including nutrients and water. The root pattern is fibrous dividing into a large number of fine roots [2-1].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

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Plant Propagation

Seed - sow spring in a cold frame and only just cover the seed. Very easy, the seed germinates quickly. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, 5 - 7 cm with a heel, June/July in a frame[11, 78]. Fairly easy, the cuttings root quite quickly. Grow on the plants in the greenhouse for their first winter and plant out in late spring. Cuttings of greenwood, 5 - 7 cm with a heel, April/May in a frame[1]. Plant out in the summer. Division in spring or autumn[1, 4].

Other Names

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Found In

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Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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