Anise Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum)

Anise hyssop. Elm Rock Farm, 2017.

Other Common Names:

  • Blue giant hyssop, wild anise, fragrant giant hyssop

Characteristics:

  • Erect perennial, 60-105cm tall, with a light-green, square stem.
  • Leaves are simple, opposite, up to 10cm long, with short petioles, heart-shaped or broadly lance-shaped, serrated, or with rounded teeth. Lower surface of leaves is white and downy. Crushed foliage smells like anise.

Reproduction:

  • Flowers form in terminal spikes at top of plant, spikes 2.5-15cm long, flowers purple, irregular, tube-like, .8cm long, with 4 long stamens. Not fragrant. Sepals are cup-like, blue/violet.
  • Flowers produce a nutlet with a single tiny brown seed
  • Pollinated primarily by bees

Similar Species:

  • All plants in the mint family have square stems, opposite leaves. Anise hyssop is distinguished by its large flower spike and anise-scented leaves.
  • Purple giant hyssop (Agastache scrophulariifolia)
    • Underside of leaves of purple giant hyssop are green, as opposed to white for anise hyssop.
    • Sepals of purple giant hyssop are green, while those of anise hyssop are blue/violet.
    • Foliage of purple giant hyssop is not anise-scented.
    • Purple giant hyssop is not reported in Manitoba

Ecological Role:

  • American goldfinches eat the seeds
  • Bees are attracted to the flowers
  • Mammals generally avoid the plant

Edibility:

  • Leaves and flowers can be used to make an anise-flavoured tea, fresh or dried.

Other Uses:

Etymology:

  • Latin “foeniculum” means “fennel,” which has a similar taste and scent.

Other: