Family: Lamiaceae (Labiatae), Hyssopus officinalis L.
Source: Simon, J.E., A.F. Chadwick and L.E. Craker. 1984.
Herbs: An Indexed Bibliography. 1971-1980. The Scientific Literature
on Selected Herbs, and Aromatic and Medicinal Plants of the Temperate
Zone. Archon Books, 770 pp., Hamden, CT.
Hyssop, Hyssopus officinalis L., is a perennial subshrub
native to southern Europe, the Mediterranean region, and temperate
Asia and naturalized in the United States. Sometimes classified
as Hyssopus aristata Godr. or Hyssopus vulgaris
Bubani, hyssop is produced commercially in France and several
other European countries. The plant reaches a height of 0.5 to
1 meter and bears small blue flowers on a terminal spike.
The reported life zone of hyssop is 7 to 21 degrees centigrade
with an annual precipitation of 0.6 to 1.5 meters (4.1-31).
The plant grows on dry, rocky, calcareous soils. Traditionally,
hyssop seedlings are transplanted into the field with the first
harvest occurring two years later, immediately after bloom.
The essential oil is extracted by steam distillation. The oil
contains pinocamphone, isopinocamphone, -pinene, -pinene,
camphene, -terpinene, pinocampheol, 1,8-cineole, linalool,
terpineol and other compounds (1.2-56, 2.1-68). Hyssop
oil may be adulterated with spike, lavandin, lavender, rosemary,
and camphor oils (14.1-8).
The flowering tops and leaves of hyssop are used as flavoring
agents in such beverages as teas, tonics, and bitters, and to
a limited extent in vegetable dishes, soups, salads, and candied
products. The essential oil is used in liqueurs, perfumes, soaps,
creams, and other cosmetics. The erect growth habit and showy
flowers make hyssop a favorite ornamental plant which is also
attractive to bees.
As a medicinal plant, hyssop has been used as a carminative, diaphoretic,
emmenagogue, expectorant, stimulant, stomachic, and tonic. Leaves
have been used as a poultice to remove discoloration around bruised
eyes and as a remedy for asthma, rheumatism, sore throats, wounds,
ulcers, and tumors (11.1-96, 14.1-16).
Several varieties, differing in flower color and leaf shape, exist;
alba (white flowers), grandiflora (large flowers),
rosea (rose flowers), and rubia (red flowers) are
commercially available (14.1-4). Hedge hyssop refers to the
perennial Gratiola officinalis L., a medicinal and potentially
poisonous plant of the Scrophulariaceae family. Giant hyssop refers
to several perennial Agastache species of the Lamiaceae
Hyssop is generally recognized as safe for human consumption as
a natural flavoring and plant extract/essential oil (21 CRI sections
182.10, 182.20 ).
[Note: References listed above in parentheses can be found in
full in the original reference].
Last modified 6-Dec-1997