Agastache foeniculum (Blue Giant Hyssop)

Plant Info
Also known as: Lavender Hyssop, Anise Hyssop
Family:Lamiaceae (Mint)
Life cycle:perennial
Habitat:part shade, shade, sun; dry fields, deciduous woods
Bloom season:June - October
Plant height:2 to 4 feet
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: irregular Flower shape: tubular Cluster type: spike

[photo of flowers] A thick spike cluster 1 to 6 inches long of light blue to violet tubular flowers. Individual flowers are about 1/3 inch long with 4 long stamens. The lower lip of the tube is longer than the upper lip, has a wide center lobe and 2 small side lobes. The spikes are usually tightly packed with flowers but sometimes there are gaps in the spike (interrupted). Not all of the flowers in the spike are in bloom at one time. The color of the cup-like whorl of sepals (calyx) holding the flower ranges from green tinged blue-violet to deep blue-violet. One plant may have multiple spikes.

Leaves and stem: Leaf attachment: opposite Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] Leaves are up to 4 inches long and 2 inches wide, with a rounded base, pointed tip, coarsely toothed edges and a short stem. The underside of the leaves are grayish, covered with fine hairs. Like all members of the Mint family, the stem is square; it may be slightly hairy as well.


Blue Giant Hyssop often grows in clumps and is a favored plant of bees. The leaves smell like anise when crushed. A similar plant is Purple Giant Hyssop, which is distinguished by the green calyx holding each flower and green underside of its leaves. Purple Giant Hyssop is also generally a taller plant.

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More photos

Photos taken at Long Lake Regional Park, New Brighton, MN July-October 2007 and 2009. Other photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Ramsey county


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Lisa - Nevis (north central)
on: 2009-08-20 14:03:43

These are abundant around our farm and on the Heartland Trail, but the blooms and leaves don't seem to be quite as large as the one in your picture. Could it be the differnce in soils? It's very sandy here.

I've always called this wild mint and even made tea from the leaves! Now I know better. =0)

Posted by: K Chayka
on: 2009-08-20 18:02:43

Most flower spikes are probably around 3 inches long, but can become twice that size. Likewise, leaves probably average 2 to 3 inches long, but can be larger especially near the base of the plant.

Posted by: Pat - Pillager
on: 2011-11-26 11:51:38

I found some of this growing in the wild near Pillager this fall. The size of the flower heads was quite impressive, almost 6" long. I collected seeds to start in my own garden.

Posted by: Holly - Edina
on: 2012-08-06 21:06:00

Yes! I've been trying to remember what this plant was. I have it in my garden and it attracts lots of bumble bees. The flower doesn't smell but when you pick the plant (I thought it was the stem but I guess according to this it's the leaves) the smell of licorice is so strong I almost want to eat it. Smells yummy. I wonder if there is anything you can make with it. Anyone know?

Posted by: Tammy - Jordan (Scott County)
on: 2014-06-12 21:36:03

I planted one of these in a new garden last year, a mix of natives and cultivars surrounding it. This was the most popular bee plant in the garden. It was always covered with very happy, excited bees!

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