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Agastache foeniculum - (Pursh.)Kuntze.

Common Name Anise Hyssop, Blue giant hyssop
Family Lamiaceae or Labiatae
USDA hardiness 7-10
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Dry thickets, fields and waste ground[43] on prairies and plains[235].
Range Western N. America - Ontario to Washington, south to Colorado.
Edibility Rating    (5 of 5)
Other Uses    (0 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (1 of 5)
Frost Hardy Well drained soil Moist Soil Full sun
Agastache foeniculum Anise Hyssop, Blue giant hyssop

(c) ken Fern, Plants For A Future 2010
Agastache foeniculum Anise Hyssop, Blue giant hyssop
(c) ken Fern, Plants For A Future 2010


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Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Agastache foeniculum is a PERENNIAL growing to 0.9 m (3ft) by 0.4 m (1ft 4in).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 8 and is not frost tender. It is in flower in July, and the seeds ripen in August. 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: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil.


A. anethiodorum. (Nutt.)Britt.


 Cultivated Beds;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Leaves.
Edible Uses: Tea.

Leaves and flowers - raw or cooked. They are used as a flavouring in raw or cooked dishes[108, 177, 257]. Excellent raw, they have a sweet aniseed flavour and are one of our favourite flavourings in salads[K]. They make a delicious addition to the salad bowl[183] and can also be used to flavour cooked foods, especially acid fruits[K].The only drawback to the leaves is that they tend to have a drying effect in the mouth and so cannot be eaten in quantity[K]. A pleasant tasting tea is made from the leaves[46, 61, 161, 183].

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Cardiac;  Diaphoretic;  Pectoral;  Poultice.

The leaves are cardiac and diaphoretic[222, 238, 257]. An infusion of the leaves is used in the treatment of colds, fevers, weak heart etc[222]. When left to go cold, the infusion is used to treat pains in the chest (such as when the lungs are sore from too much coughing)[207]. A poultice of leaves and stems can be used to treat burns[257].

Other Uses

None known

Cultivation details

Prefers a sunny position and a dry well-drained soil[187, 200]. This species is not hardy in the colder areas of the country, it tolerates temperatures down to between -5 and -10°c[200]. The young growth in spring is very susceptible to slug damage[K]. The flowering plants are very attractive to bees and butterflies[K]. There is at least one named variety. 'Texas American' has an anise-pennyroyal fragrance and is used in a similar way to the species[183].


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Seed - sow spring in a greenhouse and only just cover the seed. The seed usually germinates in 1 - 3 months at 13°c[133]. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first year. Plant out in late spring or early summer[K]. Division in spring. Fairly simple, if large divisions are used it is possible to plant them straight out into their permanent positions. Basal cuttings of young shoots in spring[111]. Harvest the young shoots when they are about 10 - 15cm tall and pot them up in a lightly shaded position in a greenhouse. They should root within 3 weeks and can be planted out in the summer or following spring.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

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 NameEdibility RatingMedicinal Rating
Agastache canaHoary Balm Of Gilead, Mosquito plant20
Agastache mexicanaMexican Giant Hyssop30
Agastache neomexicanaNew Mexico Giant Hyssop, Bill Williams Mountain giant hyssop31
Agastache rugosaKorean Mint43
Agastache urticifoliaGiant Hyssop, Nettleleaf giant hyssop31


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Botanical References


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Readers comment

Matti Kaarlas   Mon May 22 2006

Is the Agastache foeniculum safe to use if one is pregnant? Any studies on this subject?

Liesl T   Wed Nov 25 2009

Agastache foeniculum is a native to parts of northern Wisconsin. Consequently, it is probably hardy to at least Zone 4.

Dave Walter   Mon Dec 28 2009

I'm curious as to why you describe anise hyssop as: "This species is not hardy in the colder areas of the country, it tolerates temperatures down to between -5 and -10°c[200]". Perhaps this is one of the "silly mistakes" you note for Ref 200: 1. This plant is fully hardy in my Zone 3 garden in Edmonton, Alberta. 2. It is considered a native species in Alberta and "The Flora of Alberta" (2nd Ed, EH Moss) has a map showing its distribution in Zone 1-2 as well. 3. The USDA Plants Database shows this species extending across Canada & into the Northwest Territories - most of this area gets well below -10. 4. The most authoritative text on herbs in Canada (Small, E. Culinary Herbs NRC-CNRC Press)also cites Huxley (1992), but also notes that A. foeniculum has survived temperatures below -25 C. Anise hyssop freely self-seeds and flowers the first year here, so it may be getting by as an annual in the more northern sites. At least two plants have survived in the same spots in my garden since 2006; however, so it is at least also capable of being a short-lived perennial here. Cold tolerance may also vary by variety, but I think you are giving anise hyssop short shrift on its cold tolerance.

Among other things, comments on the DG page show that Agastache foeniculum is much more cold hardy than suggested by this PFAF page. Included are comments from successful growers in USDA zone 4.   Jul 7 2011 12:00AM

Dave's Garden page for Agastache foeniculum, anise hyssop

   Apr 7 2017 12:00AM

Survived at -20 C for 7 nights in Ploiesti, Romania (USDA 6).

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