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Agastache foeniculumAgastache foeniculum
Anise Hyssop
The Native Americans found many uses for this North American plant. The Cheyenne drank a tea of this herb to relieve a "dispirited heart." The Cree included the flowers of this magick herb in medicine bundles, and the Chippewa made a protective charm of it. Plant it around your back door for protection or add it to a back border. The dried plant has been burned as an incense. The flower essence is said to bring back sweetness after one has indulged in unwarranted guilt, to encourage honest communication, and to allay anxiety before exams or performances. In this plant we can see a lot of Mercury - uplifting, alleviating, quelling anxiety, communicating, the licorice scent - in a normally Venus plant family (Mint). Top

Mundane Uses

Anise hyssop is good for cut flowers and in pot pourri, and the flowers dry nicely to navy blue (the dried seed heads look pretty nice in the winter garden, too). This herb smells like black licorice and in fact has some chemicals in common with licorice, but the scent also has notes of lemon, pine, sage, black pepper, and camphor, so it's nice and complex. The leaves or flowers are edible and can be used to sweeten tea or flavor sugar or quickbreads and muffins (add 1/2 cup chopped fresh flowers). Add the leaves to fruit salads or steep them in milk for flavoring when making ice cream. You can make anise-hyssop honey (or any herb honey) by putting some dried (don't use fresh for this) leaves in a jar, pouring warm honey over them, and leaving them for a month for the honey to soak up the herb taste. Make some delicious butter cookies by adding 2 tablespoons of the fresh minced flowers to the dough. The flowers make a nice garnish for iced tea. Top

Steep 2 teaspoons of fresh or 1 teaspoon of dried herb in a mug of hot water for 7-10 minutes for a slightly sedating and tranquilizing tea. Many Native American tribes made medicinal and culinary use of this herb. The Cheyenne drank a tepid tea of anise hyssop to relieve the pain from coughing with chest colds. This herb produces sweating, and the Cheyenne also used it for sweatlodges. The Cree added it to regular tea to improve the taste, the Dakota and Omaha people flavored cooked foods with it, and the Iroquois made it into a wash against the itching of poison ivy.  It's also a traditional poultice for burns.

Anise hyssop is a typical prairie plant but also likes growing on the edges of open woodlands. It's a wonderful addition to the cottage garden. I also like to have some bee plants like this near me where I sit in the garden because I like watching our furry little sisters enjoying their work! It's a great honey plant. The color and shape of the flowers are among bees' favorites. It attracts butterflies and hummingbirds, and goldfinches like to eat its seeds. You can also grow it on a bright windowsill indoors or under shoplights. There is nothing like brushing your hand against a scented plant like this in winter - very uplifting on those grey days. This plant is also known as giant hyssop, lavender hyssop, licorice mint, blue giant hyssop (there is a relative that is called yellow giant hyssop), anise-mint, lavender hyssop, licorice mint, wonder honey plant, elk mint, and fragrant hyssop.

How to Grow Anise Hyssop

Seeds require light to germinate, so barely cover at room temperature to germinate 5-30 days. Keep soil moist but not sopping. Use bottom watering or keep the pot in an open baggie or under a humidity dome. Some sources believe using bottom heat will speed germination. Others recommend that this seed be cold stratified for two months before planting - sow them in a paper towel that has been wet and wrung out. Fold towel up and put in a baggie. Put baggie in fridge for two months, then put in indirect light (or try "Outdoor Treatment"). When germination starts, unfold the towel and cut it into small squares. Gently press each square against wet potting soil to "plant." Keep pots in an open baggie until seedlings grow through the paper towel and are established. Don't put in direct sun. Transplant to 1 ft/.25m apart in rich soil and full sun or partial shade - stalks will be stronger in full sun. It might need staking in partial shade. Many sources claim this plant is good in dry situations, but I read a report on its experimental use as part of a green roof community, and it died in the second year without any supplemental water. This makes sense because mints typically like water. Best place for mints in the garden is by a leaky faucet. This perennial generally blooms the second year from seeds but might bloom the first year if it is happy. Cut it back by 1/3 after blooming, and it will get bushier and rebloom. Plants get 3-6ft/.60-1.5m tall. Anise hyssop is hardy from zone 5 to 9 (down to -28.8 C (-20 F)). It self-seeds readily and its roots travel underground, but it is not too aggressive. Deer tend to avoid eating this plant, so a back border of anise hyssop can be effective in keeping them away.  Rabbits love it, though. General growing info. Top

Agastache foeniculum
Anise Hyssop
200 seeds $3.50

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Uses in Witchcraft & Magic:

Protection Spells
Mercury Herb

2006, 2019 Harold A. Roth; No reproduction of any part without permission.