One of the unexpected packs of seeds we received from our seed swap was the herb anise hyssop. Our April indoor sowing has successfully germinated so it’s about time we found out more about the plant. Five fascinating facts coming right up…
1. A lick of licorice
Anise hyssop is a perennial herb and a member of the mint family. It is also known as ‘licorice mint’ on account of it tasting a little like licorice. However, it does not taste like mint.
2. The bees anise
It scores highly in the bee friendly stakes – the pollen pursuing insects love the small purple flowers which cluster on the end of tall spikes in late summer. If they can get the licorice loving butterflies out of the way.
3. An easy anise
Luckily for us it is easy to grow, tolerates scruffy soil and can even handle neglect. Like mint it will spread if given freedom to roam, barging its way into places it isn’t wanted, so is often grown in pots.
4. Licorice allsorts
Both leaves and flowers are edible and routinely find their way into all sorts of sweet and savoury dishes, herbal teas and cordials. We’re particularly keen to give it a run out in a few cocktails and liqueurs.
5. Hyssop’s fables
Native North Americans revered the plant on various magical and medicinal grounds and it also crops up in numerous Chinese remedies. Among other things it is said to relieve a dispirited heart, provide protection for a dwelling and cure a myriad of ailments including anxiety, coughing, heatstroke and nail fungus.