Sunday, March 22, 2009

Hyssop (Hyssopus Officinalis)

Hyssop is a compact, shrubby perennial that grows between 40-60cm high. Its smooth, narrow leaves taper to a point at the end and grow opposite one another on the woody stems. Their color is dark, glossy green and they have a pungent aroma and resinous taste. The small flowers blue and appear profusely between July and November in spikes at the ends of stems. They are attractive to bees and butterflies. Planted with cabbage, it helps to ward off cabbage moths.

How to grow
Grow hyssop in full sun and light, well drained soil that is slightly alkaline. New plants may be grown from seeds sown in moist soil in the spring. Keep the soil moist during germination, it takes about 1 to 3 weeks. Spacing is 6 to 12 inches apart and temperature is 15 to 21 degree Celsius. Once established, hyssop will reseed itself.

Hyssop and its oil are mainly used to treat respiratory problems. The Greek Hippocrates already recommended hyssop to treat bronchitis. Today, hyssop is used for the treatment nasal congestion and mild irritations of the respiratory tract. The hyssop essential oil has stimulant and antiseptic affects. Hyssop can also be used in the kitchen. The hyssop flowers and leaves can be used to flavour dishes, including soups, salads, sauces, meat dishes, vegetable dishes and fruit salads. Fresh and dried hyssop flowers are also used as decoration

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