Hyssopus is a genus of about 10 species of herbaceous perennials and evergreen shrubs in the family Lamiaceae, native to southern and eastern Europe and the temperate zones of Asia.
The plant has erect, branched stems, small narrow leaves and double-lipped flowers that are highly attractive to hummingbirds, bees and other pollinators.
The genus name is derived from the Greek word “hyssopus”, itself derived from the Hebrew “ezov”, meaning “holy herb”.
In the Bible, ezov is described as a small plant with an aromatic odour, which was used in ritual cleansing. However, a recent source suggests that the biblical ezov was a common term for certain plants belonging to the genus Origanum.
The plant is also known as Hyssop, although it is a widely recognized common name for the particular species – Hyssopus officinalis.
It’s worth to mention that there are several plants that are referred to as Hyssop. For example, Agastache foeniculum is commonly known as Anise Hyssop. This plant is also a member of the mint family (Lamiaceae), but despite the common name it is not botanically related to Hyssopus.
Hyssopus symbolizes protection, health, cleanliness and sacrifice.
It is also said to symbolize penitence, humility and modesty.
Interesting facts about Hyssopus:
Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis)
By far the most popular species of the genus is a well-known Hyssopus officinalis, commonly called Hyssop.
Hyssop officinalis is a semi-evergreen subshrub, with erect stems bearing narrow leaves and spikes of whorled, double-lipped, tubular flowers in summer and early autumn.
It is a popular medicinal, culinary and aromatic herb. Hyssop has been used since ancient times for both medicinal and aromatic purposes.
The plant has been used for a wide variety of ailments including sore throat, colds, coughs, asthma, menstrual cramps, digestive aid, urinary tract infections, colic, gallbladder disease and liver problems. It has also been used to treat burns, bruises, poor circulation and frostbite. Hyssop can slow cancer cells from spreading and even kill them, and prevent the spread of viruses including HIV/AIDS.
Both leaves and flowers are edible, although the leaves are of primary use. You can use the leaves in soups, stews, sauces and stuffings.
The plant is used to make an essential oil. The oil is made from the flowers and leaves of the plant. It has a delicious aromatic and minty scent to energize and cleanse the body and mind.
Romans, Greeks, and Arabs identified the medicinal benefits of this essential oil, as it has medicinal properties that can be used to heal and treat various ailments.
Hyssop is used in the preparation of perfumes, soaps and cosmetics.
It is also an ingredient in liqueurs and aromatized wines, such as Absinthe, Chartreuse and Vermouth.
The flowers are usually purple and blue, or rarely pink and white.
Spring, Autumn, Summer
The plant usually grows to a height of 60 cm (2 ft).
Hyssopus thrives in sunny or partially shaded areas with well drained, moist or dry soil. It is an adaptable plant that grows in sandy or loamy soils and tolerates a pH range from 5.0 to 8.0.