Common names: Hyssop
The hyssop is a perennial plant belonging to the mint (Lamiaceae) family, having a strongly branched deep taproot. Its stems are 50-70 cm long, branched. The lower parts of the stems are lignified, the upper parts are soft, greenish. Its opposite, pointed leaves have a dark green color and entire margins. Its flowers are blue, white or pink, grouped in pseudowhorls. The main blooming period is in July. In terms of active substance content there is no difference between the different colour variations.
It is a native species to the Mediterranean area and West Asia, cultivated in Central and Southern Europe and usually prefers dry, warm, southern hillslopes. It is a drought-tolerant plant, developing better in calcareous soils of medium consistency, which warm up easily.
Hyssop must be sown in early spring, in March or early April, at a depth of 1-2 cm. To obtain dry drug, hyssop is collected from the appearance of the first flowers until the main blooming period. The stems are cut above their lignified lower parts, as these parts decrease the quality of the drug. If one wishes to extract essential oils, the plants must be harvested during the main blooming period.
The drug consists of the flowering stems (Hyssopi herba) and of the essential oil. The stems above ground surface contain significant quantities (0.3-1%) of essential oil. In addition, these parts contain flavonoids, tannins, bitter substances and resins.
As a medicinal plant, hyssop has been known since the ancient times. In Europe it was grown as a garden plant as early as the 16th century. Due to its expectorant, antiseptic and mild cough reliever properties, it is commonly used as herb. It can be part of tea mixtures treating coughs, bronchitis or asthma. It is also known for its appetite-improving and antihypertensive effects. If taken in higher doses, hyssop essential oil can cause epileptic seizures. It can also be used to season meats and sauces.