2019’s Herb of the Year: Meet Anise Hyssop

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Anise hyssop (Agastache foeniculum) is an often-overlooked member of the mint family, and has been named the Herb of the Year for 2019 by the International Herb Association (IHA). 

Since 1991, IHA has been selecting an herb to feature each year based on its culinary, decorative, or medicinal qualities. Like previous honorees, anise hyssop deserves accolades in all three areas.

What is Anise Hyssop?

Read on to learn more about this wonderful herb, a favorite of chefs, gardeners, and herbalists around the world.

Using Anise Hyssop in Food

Anise hyssop is most often used as a tea made with either fresh or dried leaves. Iced tea made from the licorice-mint flavored leaves refreshes on hot summer days. Anise hyssop leaves add a bright and unexpected zing to salads, fruit cups, or as a seasoning in a wide variety of dishes. The flowers are also edible.

Beautiful Flowers and Foliage

Anise hyssop, a native of North America, can grow up to four to five feet tall when fully mature. In mid to late summer, its tall stems produce beautiful purple flower spikes that self-seed generously. Plus, it doesn’t run wild in the garden like other members of the mint family!

Medicinal Uses for Anise Hyssop

Like other mint-family counterparts, this herb is rich in antioxidants and provides relief from mild digestive ailments. It can ease nausea and vomiting, and it also has antimicrobial properties. Anise hyssop supports digestion, immunity, and the nervous and respiratory systems, as well as helping to reduce inflammation. It has no known contraindications.

Sources: 

“Anise hyssop, Agastache foeniculum” by Susan Mahr, University of Wisconsin-Madison Master Gardener Program, https://WIMasterGardener.org, 9/11/15

The Complete Herb Book by Jekka McVicar ($29.95, Firefly, 2008) 

Grow Your Own Herbal Remedies by Maria Noël Groves ($24.95, Storey, 2019)

“Herb of the Year,” International Herb Association, www.iherb.org

Contributor: 

Kelli Ann Wilson

Kelli Ann Wilson is Assistant Editor at Taste for Life magazine. In her free time she enjoys reading, writing, photography, gardening, and spending time with her husband and two kids.