Anise Hyssop Agastache foeniculum
Mint family (Lamiaceae)
Description: This native perennial plant is 2-4' tall, branching occasionally near the apex. The four-angled stems are glabrous or slightly pubescent. The opposite leaves are up to 4" long and 2" across, and have short petioles. They are cordate or broadly lanceolate, with crenate margins. The upper surface of the leaves is conspicuously veined and dull green, while the lower surface is white and finely canescent. The foliage has an anise scent. The upper stems terminate in spikes of flowers about 3-6" long. The small flowers are arranged in dense whorls that are crowded along the spike, although sometimes the whorls are less crowded and more interrupted. The calyx of a flower is tubular and has five teeth; it is usually dull blue-violet or a similar color, becoming more colorful toward its tips. The tubular flowers are about 1/3" long, extending beyond the calyx. They are blue-violet. The corolla of a flower is divided into a short upper lip and a longer lower lip. The lower lip has 2 small lateral lobes and a larger central lobe. Exerted from the throat of the flower are 4 stamens with blue-violet anthers, and a style that is cleft toward its tip. The flowers bloom in scattered locations along the spikes for about 1-2 months from mid- to late summer. During this time, calyx of each flower remains somewhat colorful. There is no floral scent. The flowers are replaced by nutlets that oval-shaped and smooth. The root system produces a taproot.
Cultivation: The preference is full or partial sun, and mesic to dry conditions. The soil can consist of loam, clay-loam, or contain some rocky material. Foliar disease isn't a significant problem, although some of the lower leaves may drop from the central stem in response to a drought. Occasionally, slugs and insects will feed on the leaves, creating holes. This member of the Mint family is more resistant to drou
In traditional herbal medicine, anise hyssop tea was used to aid digestion.
Culinary uses - Add fresh leaves and flowers to salads and fruit salads, and use as a garnish.
Use fresh or dried leaves to complement lamb, chicken, salmon, and to enliven vegetables such as peas. Substitute anise hyssop leaves in recipes calling for anise or mint.
Use flowers in baking, especially in tea breads.
Add fresh young leaves to cool summer drinks.
To make a refreshing cup of anise hyssop tea, add 5 ml (1 teaspoon) of dried leaves and flowers or 15 ml (3 teaspoons) of fresh leaves and flowers to 250 ml (1 cup) of boiling water. Cover and steep for 10 minutes. Strain and sweeten with honey to taste
Light-colored anise hyssop honey is quite delicious.
Anise hyssop essential oil is used commercially to flavor root beer and various liqueurs.
Craft uses - Include lovely anise hyssop blooms in fresh or dried floral arrangements.
Add fragrant dried flowers to potpourris and sachets.