Hyssopus officinalis-Hyssop

Family: Labiatae or Lamiaceae

Other names: Yssop, Ysopo, Thymus hyssopus,Beibl Y Plant

By H. Zell (Own work) [GFDL (https://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Hyssop has a long history of use as a  medicinal  herb and was so highly esteemed in the past that it was considered to be a virtual cure-all. It is mentioned in the Bible and many other ancient texts. Now used 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 leaves and flowering tops are antiseptic, antitussive, astringent, carminative, diaphoretic, emmenagogue, expectorant, pectoral, sedative, stimulant, stomachic, tonic and vasodilator. 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’. 

hazardsmallThe plant should not be used by pregnant women, however, since in large quantities it can induce a miscarriage. Essential Oil should not be used on people who are highly strung as it can cause epileptic symptoms.

Habitat: A common garden plant.Europe – Mediterranean. Naturalized in Britain. Old walls and buildings, stony places. Dry hills and rock ledges to 2200 metres in Turkey

Description of Hyssop:

Hyssopus officinalis is an evergreen Shrub growing to 0.6 m (2ft) by 0.6 m (2ft in). 
It is hardy to zone 7. It is in leaf 12-Jan It is in flower from Jul to September, and the seeds ripen from Aug to October. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are 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: neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It  grows best in full sun. It prefers dry or moist soil.

Cultivation of Hyssop:

Prefers a light, dry calcareous soil and a sunny position. A very cold-hardy plant, when dormant it can tolerate temperatures down to about -25°c. Hyssop has very aromatic leaves and is commonly grown in the herb garden where it makes a good edging plant to a border. There are some named varieties. The plant needs to be trimmed regularly to keep it in shape, untrimmed plants will soon degenerate. Spring is the best time to trim the plants. It is probably best to replace the plants every few years. The flowers have a rich aromatic fragrance. Hyssop is a very good plant for attracting bees and butterflies to the garden.

Companion plant:

It is a good companion plant to grow with grapes, but it grows badly with radishes.

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.

Collection: The flowering tops of Hyssop should be collected in August and dried in the sun.

Culinary uses of Hyssop:

Edible Parts: Flowers;  Leaves.
Edible Uses: Condiment.

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.

Hyssopus_Officinalis_botanicalMedicinal uses of Hyssop:

Actions: Anti-spasmodic, expectorant, diaphoretic, nervine, anti-inflammatory, carminative, hepatic, emmenagogue.

Part Used: Dried aerial parts.


Hyssop has an interesting range of uses which are largely attributable to the anti-spasmodic action of the volatile oil. It is used in coughsbronchitis and chronic catarrh. Its diaphoretic properties explain its use in the common cold. As a nervine it may be used in anxiety states, hysteria and petit mal (a form of epilepsy).

King’s Dispensatory considers it a ” stimulant, aromatic, carminative and tonic. Principally used in quinsy and other sore throats, as a gargle, combined with sage and alum, in infusion sweetened with honey. Also recommended in asthmacoughs, and other affections of the chest, as an expectorant. The leaves applied to bruises, speedily relieve the pain, and disperse every spot or mark from the affected parts.”


It may be combined with White Horehound and Coltsfoot in the treatment of coughs and bronchitis. For the common cold it may be mixed with Boneset, Elder Flower and Peppermint.

Preparation and dosage: 

Infusion: pour a cup of boiling water onto 1-2 teaspoonfuls of the dried herb and leave to infuse for 10-15 minutes. This should be drunk three times a day.

Tincture: Take 1-4 ml of the tincture three times a day.

Other uses of Hyssop:

Essential;  Fungicide;  Hedge;  Hedge;  Pot-pourri;  Repellent;  Strewing.

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.

Esoteric uses of Hyssop:

The most widely used purification herb in magick. Lightens vibrations and promotes spiritual opening; used for cleansing and purification. Said to protect property against burglars and trespassers. Used to consecrate magickal tools or items made of tin. The best herb for physical cleansing and washing of temple, ritual tools, or oneself (bath magick). Add to baths & sachets, infuse and sprinkle on objects/people for cleansing or hang in the home to purge it of evil & negativity.

The Chemistry:
  • Terpenoids; including marrubiin, oleanolic and ursolicacids
  • Volatile oil, composed mainly of camphor, pinocaphone, thujone, isopinocamphone, with [[alpha]]- and [[beta]]-pinene, [[alpha]]-terpinene, linalool, bornylacetate and many others
  • Flavonoids, including diosmin and hesperidin.
  • Miscellaneous: hyssopin (a glucoside), tannins 5-8%, resin.

Citations from the Medline database for the genus Hyssopus


Kreis W Kaplan MH Freeman J Sun DK Sarin PS

Inhibition of HIV replication by Hyssop officinalis extracts.

Antiviral Res (1990 Dec) 14(6):323-37

Crude extracts of dried leaves of Hyssop officinalis showed strong anti-HIVactivity as measured by inhibition of syncytia formation, HIV reverse transcriptase (RT), and p17 and p24 antigen expression, but were non-toxic to the uninfected Molt-3 cells. Ether extracts from direct extraction (ProcedureI), after removal of tannins (Procedure II), or from the residue after dialysis of the crude extract (Procedure III), showed good antiviral activity. Methanolextracts, subsequent to ether, chloroform and chloroform ethanol extractions, derived from procedure I or II, but not III, also showed very strong anti-HIV activity. In addition, the residual material after methanol extractions still showed strong activity. Caffeic acid was identified in the ether extract of procedure I by HPLC and UV spectroscopy. Commercial caffeic acid showed good antiviral activity in the RT assay and high to moderate activity in the syncytia assay and the p17 and p24 antigen expression. Tannic acid and gallic acid, common to other teas, could not be identified in our extracts. When commercial products of these two acids were tested in our assay systems, they showed high to moderate activity against HIV-1. Hyssop officinalis extracts contain caffeic acid, unidentified tannins, and possibly a third class of unidentified higher molecular weight compounds that exhibit strong anti-HIVactivity, and may be useful in the treatment of patients with AIDS.

Unusual herbs to grow in your spring garden
Hyssop: Hyssop grows wild in the Mediterranean and Middle East. It is a common flavor in Middle Eastern cooking. It’s an attractive-looking plant with purple blooms and fragrant leaves that is known to attract hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies.
Hyssopus officinalis
Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis, synonym Hyssopus decumbens) is a herb aceous plant of the genus Hyssopus native to Southern Europe.
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