Hyssop is a semi evergreen shrub or "sub-shrub" with aromatic leaves and spikes of blue, two-lipped, late-summer flowers.
The sharp-flavored leaf is added to liqueurs, adds bite to sweet and savory dishes, and aids in the digestion of fatty meat. Once used for purifying temples and cleansing lepers, the leaves contain an antiseptic, antiviral oil. A mold that produces penicillin grows on the leaves. An infusion is taken as sedative expectorant for flu, bronchitis, and phlegm. A leaf poultice treats bruises and wounds. The essential oil is used to treat cold sores, disperse bruises, and heal scars. This oil can be hazardous and should be avoided when epilepsy, high blood pressure, or pregnancy are indicated. Hyssop is added to potpourri and laundry rinses.