2019 Herb of the Year — Anise Hyssop
(article by Shirley Mah Kooyman)
The 2019 Herb of the Year was selected by the International Herb Association (IHA) to be Anise Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum) which is also known as Giant Hyssop and Blue Giant Hyssop. It is native to the Great Plains of USA and is found in prairies. This member of the Mint Family (Lamiaceae or Labiatae) is a hardy perennial that grows 3-4 ft. tall, blooming July-August, drought tolerant, and not favored by deer. Its lavender flowers attract many pollinators such as hummingbirds, bees, butterflies, and moths.
This native MN plant was long used medicinally to treat coughs, fevers, wounds, and diarrhea because of its anti-inflammatory properties. It’s often used in teas and potpourri for its licorice-mint flavor.
Anise hyssop thrives in full sun or in part shade (shade in the morning and sun in the afternoon). This low maintenance perennial grows easily from seeds or divisions. It self-seeds heavily but can be easily weeded out. Of special note there is also a cultivar available in the nursery trade called Agastache foeniculum ‘Golden Jubilee’ which has chartreuse leaves. It was An All American Selections Award Winner in 2003. It is not as vigorous as the native due to having less chlorophyll.