Herb: Hyssop

Latin name: Hyssopus officinalis

Family: Labiatae

Medicinal use of Hyssop:

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. Currently an undervalued herb, it is often used as a household remedy, particularly as an expectorant and stomach tonic. It has a positive effect when used to treat bronchitis and respiratory infections, especially where there is excessive mucous production. 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. The plant should not be used by pregnant women, however, since in large quantities it can induce a miscarriage. The leaves and flowering tops are antiseptic, antitussive, astringent, carminative, diaphoretic, emmenagogue, expectorant, pectoral, sedative, stimulant, stomachic, tonic and vasodilator. The plant can be harvested when in full flower and dried for later use. A tea made from the leaves is used in the treatment of flatulence, stomach-aches, upper respiratory tract infections, coughs in children etc. A poultice made from the fresh herb is used to heal wounds. The essential oil is used in aromatherapy. Its keyword is "Stability". This oil should not be used on people who are highly strung as it can cause epileptic symptoms. The essential oil should not be used internally except under professional supervision.

Description of the plant:


60 cm
(2 feet)

July to


Habitat of the herb:

Old walls and buildings, stony places. Dry hills and rock ledges to 2200 metres in Turkey.

Edible parts of Hyssop:

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

Other uses of the herb:

Hyssop can be grown as a dwarf hedge, it responds well to trimming in the spring. The growing plant attracts cabbage white butterflies away from brassicas. Another report says that hyssop attracts cabbage white butterflies and should not be grown near cabbages. An essential oil from the leaves is antiseptic and also used in perfumery and as a food flavouring. It has a particularly fine odour and is much valued by perfumers. Average yields of the oil are about 0.6%. 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. The plant was formerly used as a strewing herb and is also used in pot-pourri. A tea made from the leaves is useful for controlling bacterial plant diseases. Plants can be grown for ground cover when spaced about 45cm apart each way.

Propagation of Hyssop:

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. 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. Plant out in the summer. Division in spring or autumn.

Cultivation of the herb:

Old walls and buildings, stony places. Dry hills and rock ledges to 2200 metres in Turkey.

Known hazards of Hyssopus officinalis:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.