Hyssop (Hyssópus officinalis) is a 20 - 70 cm tall shrub from the mint family, native to southwest Asia and southern Europe. In the Middle Ages, this spice found its way into the German monastery gardens and even today naturalized on dry slopes and hills in parts of southern Germany. The name "Ysop" is probably derived from the Arabic language and means translated "holy herb".
Season from July
From July, the mostly blue, rarely white or pink flowers open in multi-flowered whorled whorls on the stems of the Ysopp plant. During the one-month flowering period, this herb in the garden serves as a bee pasture and is also often visited by butterflies. Like most Southern herbs, the hyssop likes a loose, slightly dry, calcareous soil in full sun. At suitable locations, it can develop strong growth and reach heights of one meter.
The Ysop only needs winter protection in particularly cold winters. It is considered a repellent of snails, caterpillars and aphids and is therefore often used in gardens as border planting.
Active ingredients and healing properties of hyssop
Hyssop contains some essential oil (cineol, β-pinene, etc.) and hyssopine dye. The tannins and bitter substances typical of other mint plants such as rosemary and sage are also present. These include phenols such as carnosic acid and carnosol as well as a cinnamic acid compound and triterpenic acids such as ursolic acid and oleanolic acid. These substances lead to the bitter aftertaste of the Ysop and have astringent and antioxidant properties.
Most experts reject the medical use of the Ysop because an effect is not proven. In addition, the ingestion of hyssop oil in some cases triggered convulsions. Therefore, the use of hyssop as a medicinal plant is not fully recommended.
Hyssop as a kitchen herb
The narrow, lanceolate to linear leaves of the Ysops can be harvested fresh for use in the kitchen throughout the growing season. The dried herb, however, has much less flavor. The fresh leaves of the Ysop smell spicy (similar to rosemary and sage) and have a strong, slightly bitter taste. Ysop has a digestive effect, which is why this plant is often used as a condiment of fat meat. Also potato and bean soups, veal and chicken, salads, herb quark and sauces can be flavored with hyssop.