Anise Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum)
Another herb beloved of both bees and butterlies, anise hyssop is a less known, little appreciated and sadly almost forgotten herb with a generosity of flavour which I am now about to reveal. It is a short lived perennial growing up to 60cm and producing elegant spikes of small, bluey purple flowers from mid Summer onwards.
With the smell and taste of anise and fennel this is a herb which works beautifully with the sweet summery flavours of soft fruits; harvest young leaves from the middle of summer, chop finely and sprinkle on your fruit salad and they will release a hint of mint and a touch of that wonderful anise. Perfect.
Those pretty delicate flowers I mentioned, so easy on the eye, prove their worth in so many ways too. Infuse them in boiling water for a simple tisane, always useful in the event of a hangover……..float a few on your Pimms (or of course shrub). Much like mint, the leaves can also be used as a substitute, fresh, frozen or incorporated into herb butters., fish or chicken dishes. Unbeatable on a bowl of new potatoes and fabulous in a falafel, frittata or strawberry frappe.
Anise Hyssop has a place with Native Americans who used it in a vasty variety of ways, making a poultice for burns, a tea to relieve cough and cold symptoms and to relieve a ‘dispirited heart’.
Its medicinal claims are numerous but recent clinical trials have indicated that it has potential in the treatment of the herpes virus. The leaves do have antibacterial properties and can be used in a bath to alleviate sunburn and to treat athletes foot.
Easy to grow from seed either indoors or simply sow where you would like it to grow in your garden in a sunny or part sunny spot in well drained soil.
Blue Giant Hyssop