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ntroduced Photo: Gurcharan Singh
Common name: Hyssop
Botanical name: Hyssopus officinalis    Family: Lamiaceae (Mint family)
Synonyms: Hyssopus vulgaris, Thymus hyssopus

Hyssop is a herbaceous plant native to Southern Europe, the Middle East, and the region surrounding the Caspian Sea. Hyssop is a brightly colored subshrub that is 1-2 ft tall. The stem is woody at the base, from which grow a number of straight branches. Its leaves are lanceshaped, dark green in colour, 2-2.5 cm long. During the summer, the plant produces bunches of pink, blue, or, more rarely, white fragrant flowers. Flower clusters are 3-7-flowered, forming spike-like inflorescence. Flowers are short-stalked, bluish to purple, nearly 1 cm long, upper lip 2-lobed, lowers 3-lobed, stamens distinctly protruding. These give rise to small oblong achenes. The plant is commonly used by beekeepers to produce a rich and aromatic honey. Herb hyssop leaves are used as an aromatic condiment.
Medicinal uses: As a medicinal herb, hyssop has soothing, expectorant, and cough suppressant properties. The plant also includes the chemicals thujone and phenol, which give it antiseptic properties.

Identification credit: Gurcharan Singh
Photographed in Kashmir.
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