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Hyssop: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Hyssopus can also refer to a genus of Hymenopteran insects of the family Eulophidae.
For the biblical plant usually translated as hyssop, see Ezov.
Herb Hyssop Hyssopus officinalis
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Lamiales
Family: Lamiaceae
Genus: Hyssopus

See text

Hyssop (Hyssopus) is a genus of about 10-12 species of herbaceous or semi-woody plants in the family Lamiaceae, native from the east Mediterranean to central Asia.[1] They are aromatic, with erect branched stems up to 60 cm long covered with fine hairs at the tips. The leaves are narrow oblong, 2–5 cm long. The small blue flowers are borne on the upper part of the branches during summer. By far the best-known species is the Herb Hyssop (H. officinalis), widely cultivated outside its native area in the Mediterranean.



  • Hyssopus ambiguus (Trautv.) Iljin
  • Hyssopus cretaceus Dubjan.
  • Hyssopus cuspidatus Boriss.
  • Hyssopus ferganensis Boriss.
  • Hyssopus latilabiatus C.Y.Wu & H.W.Li
  • Hyssopus lophanthoides Buch.-Ham. ex D.Don
  • Hyssopus macranthus Boriss.
  • Hyssopus ocymifolius Lam.
  • Hyssopus officinalis L.
  • Hyssopus seravschanicus (Dub.) Pazij
  • Hyssopus tianschanicus Boriss.


The name 'hyssop' can be traced back almost unchanged through the Greek ύσσωπος (hyssopos) and Hebrew אזוב (ezov).[1] The Book of Exodus records that the blood of the sacrifices was applied to the doorposts using hyssop on the night of Passover. Its purgative properties are also mentioned in the Book of Psalms.[2] In the New Testament, a sponge soaked in sour wine or vinegar was stuck on a branch of hyssop and offered to Jesus of Nazareth on the cross just before he died.[3] Both Matthew and Mark mention the occasion but refer to the plant using the general term καλαμος (kalamos), which is translated as "reed" or "stick."

The seeds are sown in spring and the seedlings planted out 40–50 cm apart. Hyssop can also be propagated from cuttings or root division in spring or autumn. Hyssop should be grown in full sun on well drained soil, and will benefit from occasional clipping. It is short-lived, and the plants will need to be replaced every few years. Ideal for use as a low hedge or border within the herb garden.

Hyssop also has uses in the garden, it is said to be a good companion plant to cabbage, partly because it will lure away the Cabbage White butterfly.[4] It has also "been found to improve the yield from grapevines if planted along the rows, particularly if the terrain is rocky or sandy, and the soil is not as easy to work as it might be."[5] Hyssop is said to be antagonistic to radishes, and they should not be grown nearby. Hyssop also attracts bees, hoverflies and butterflies, thus has a place in the wild garden as well as being useful in controlling pests and encouraging pollination without the use of unnatural methods.

Hyssop leaves can be preserved by drying.[1] They should be harvested on a dry day at the peak of their maturity and the concentration of active ingredients is highest. They should be dried quickly, away from bright sunlight in order to preserve their aromatic ingredients and prevent oxidation of other chemicals. Good air circulation is required, such as an airing cupboard with the door left open, or a sunny room, aiming for a temperature of 20-32°C. Hyssop leaves should dry out in about six days, any longer and they will begin to discolor and lose their flavor.[1] The dried leaves are stored in clean, dry, labelled airtight containers, and will keep for 12–18 months.

Hyssop is used as a food plant by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Cabbage Moth.


19th century illustration of H. officinalis

Hyssop is used as an ingredient in eau de Cologne and the liqueur Chartreuse. It is also used to color the spirit Absinthe, along with Melissa and Roman wormwood.[6] Hyssop is also used, usually in combination with other herbs such as liquorice,[7] in herbal remedies, especially for lung conditions.[8] It is a convulsant (causes convulsions) due to its effect on the central nervous system.

Ritual use

Hyssop is a sacred plant used in Judaism, it appears repeatedly in the Hebrew Bible as Ezov. In Exodus 12:22 the Jews in Egypt are instructed to "Take a bunch of hyssop, dip it into the blood in the basin and put some of the blood on the top and on both sides of the doorframe. Not one of you shall go out the door of his house until morning." It is used by the priests in the Temple of Solomon for purification rites of various kinds in Leviticus 14:4-7, 14:49-52, 19:6, 18. Accordingly, hyssop is also often used to fill the Catholic ceremonial Aspergillum, which the priest dips into a bowl of holy water, and sprinkles onto the congregation to bless them. However, researchers have suggested that the Biblical accounts refer not to the plant currently known as hyssop, but rather one of a number of different herbs."[9][10]

The Talmud calls the hyssop אברתא and considers it to be a herbal remedy for indigestion.[11]

Culinary use

Hyssop leaves have a slightly bitter minty flavour and can be added to soups, salads or meats, although should be used sparingly as the flavour is very strong.

See also


1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

HYSSOP (Hyssopus officinalis), a garden herb belonging to the natural order Labiatae, formerly cultivated for use in domestic medicine. It is a small perennial plant about 2 ft. high, with slender, quadrangular, woody stems; narrowly elliptical, pointed, entire, dotted leaves, about 1 in. long and 3 in. wide, growing in pairs on the stem; and long terminal, erect, halfwhorled, leafy spikes of small violet-blue flowers, which are in blossom from June to September. Varieties of the plant occur in gardens with red and white flowers, also one having variegated leaves. The leaves have a warm, aromatic, bitter taste, and are believed to owe their properties to a volatile oil which is present in the proportion of 4 to a %. Hyssop is a native of the south of Europe, its range extending eastward to central Asia. A strong tea made of the leaves, and sweetened with honey, was formerly used in pulmonary and catarrhal affections, and externally as an application to bruises and indolent swellings.

The hedge hyssop (Gratiola officinalis) belongs to the natural order Scrophulariaceae, and is a native of marshy lands in the south of Europe, whence it was introduced into Britain more than 300 years ago. Like Hyssopus officinalis, it has smooth opposite entire leaves, but the stems are cylindrical, the leaves twice the size, and the flowers solitary in the axils of the leaves and having a yellowish-red veined tube and bluish-white limb, while the capsules are oval and many-seeded. The herb has a bitter, nauseous taste, but is almost odourless. In small quantities it acts as a purgative, diuretic and emetic when taken internally. It was formerly official in the Edinburgh Pharmacopoeia, being esteemed as a remedy for dropsy. It is said to have formed the basis of a celebrated nostrum for gout, called Eau medicina;e, and in former times was called Gratia Dei. When growing in abundance, as it does in some damp pastures in Switzerland, it becomes dangerous to cattle. G. peruviana is known to possess similar properties.

The hyssop ('ezob) of Scripture (Ex. xii. 22; Lev. xiv. 4, 6; Numb. xix. 6, 18; I Kings v. 13 (iv. 33); Ps. li. 9 (7); John xix. 29), a wall-growing plant adapted for sprinkling purposes, has long been the subject of learned disputation, the only point on which all have agreed being that it is not to be identified with the Hyssopus officinalis, which is not a native of Palestine. No fewer than eighteen plants have been supposed by various authors to answer the conditions, and Celsius has devoted more than forty pages to the discussion of their several claims. By Tristram (Oxford Bible for Teachers, 1880) and others the caper plant (Capparis spinosa) is supposed to be meant; but, apart from other difficulties, this identification is open to the objection that the caper seems to be, at least in one passage (Eccl. xii. 5), otherwise designated (abiyyonah). Thenius (on 1 Kings v. 13) suggests Orthotrichum saxatile. The most probable opinion would seem to be that found in Maimonides and many later writers, according to which the Hebrew ezob is to be identified with the Arabic sa'atar, now understood to be Satureja Thymus, a plant of very frequent occurrence in Syria and Palestine, with which Thymus Serpyllum, or wild thyme, and Satureja Thymbra are closely allied. Its smell, taste and medicinal properties are similar to those of H. officinalis. In Morocco the sa`atar of the Arabs is Origanum compactum; and it appears probable that several plants of the genera Thymus, Origanum and others nearly allied in form and habit, and found in similar localities, were used under the name of hyssop.

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Bible wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From BibleWiki

(Heb. 'ezob; LXX. hyssopos), first mentioned in Ex 12:22 in connection with the institution of the Passover. We find it afterwards mentioned in Lev 14:4ff, Lev 14:52; Num 19:6, Num 19:18; Heb 9:19.

It is spoken of as a plant "springing out of the wall" (1 Kg 4:33). Many conjectures have been formed as to what this plant really was. Some contend that it was a species of marjoram (origanum), six species of which are found in Palestine. Others with more probability think that it was the caper plant, the Capparis spinosa of Linnaeus. This plant grew in Egypt, in the desert of Sinai, and in Palestine. It was capable of producing a stem three or four feet in length (Mt 27:48; Mk 15:36. Comp. Jn 19:29).

This entry includes text from Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897.

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