Agastache nepetoides (Yellow Giant Hyssop)

Plant Info
Also known as: Catnip Giant Hyssop
Family:Lamiaceae (Mint)
Life cycle:perennial
Habitat:part shade, sun; moist open woods, thickets, woodland edges
Bloom season:July - October
Plant height:3 to 5 feet
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: FACU MW: FACU NCNE: FACU
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 dense, narrow, 2 to 8 inch spike of pale greenish to yellow flowers at ends of stems and branches, often with several separated flowers at the spike base and only scattered flowers open at any one time. Flowers are  tubular, about 1/3 inch long with four irregular lobes: a broad fringed lower lip, two small lateral lobes and smaller fringed upper hood. 4 slender stamens and single style, forked at the tip, extend conspicuously from the floral tube.

Leaves and stems: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] Leaves are thin, generally egg-shaped, rounded to nearly heart-shaped at the base, pointed at the tip, with coarsely toothed edges and fine hairs on the lower surface. Lower leaves are up to 6 inches long including a 2 inch stalk, to 3 inches wide; the upper leaves are smaller.

[photo of stem] Stems are stout and strongly four-angled, heavily branched throughout, typically smooth but sometimes with minute soft hairs, especially on the the leaf stalk.


Yellow Giant Hyssop is a southern species of open woodlands and thickets. While Minnesota is the northwestern edge of its range, the two documented occurrences are from the Lac Qui Parle river bottoms in Chippewa and Lac Qui Parle counties in west central MN. Presently listed as a “tracked” species by MN-DNR, in all likelihood there are other locations out there pending some botany enthusiast with an open mind and open eyes, spotting it.

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More photos

Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in a private garden in Ramsey County.


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

Posted by: Scott - Driftless region,Root River Valley.
on: 2014-08-28 20:57:53

Populations of native yellow giant hyssop occur here in the Driftless region. I have pressed specimens and images readily produced. Habitat loss has taken three of the known populations,meeting purple giant hyssop which is infiltrating these once more open situations is perhaps their greatest threat..

Posted by: Debra - Milaca
on: 2015-06-23 10:00:44

Came up on south side of home, growing in rock.

Posted by: Joseph - Lyon county
on: 2015-08-29 14:47:05

I found Yellow Giant Hyssop in Camden State Park and along the Redwood River near my home just north of the City of Lynd.

Posted by: Janet - St Paul, Mac-Groveland neighborhood
on: 2015-09-01 13:54:58

It came up in my alley garden, which was already planted to natives. This garden is partly shaded. Yellow giant hyssop is taking over. Bumblebees and honeybees really like it.

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2015-09-01 13:56:05

Janet, it can produce copious amounts of seed. Dead-heading helps, and raking can clear out the seedlings. Whoever said native plant gardens don't require any maintenance never had one!

Posted by: Angie - Eden Prairie
on: 2017-08-02 10:47:10

Have a few of these in my native shade garden...I'm commenting though because it was difficult to identify them on your website. I eventually had to broaden my search to this very vague set of criteria to find it:
Criteria: type=flower; flower=yellow,irregular,spike;

You may want to look into the search setup for this species?

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2017-08-02 17:25:21

Angie, without knowing what your original failed search was, it's a bit difficult to figure out what might need adjusting.

Posted by: Hans Ringsak - Oak Park Heights
on: 2018-08-09 23:24:22

Found a population of this in the Cedar Rock SNA in Redwood county. There were many of them growing right on the granite outcrop in the middle of the SNA. I also found a population in Washington county, near the St. Croix Savanna SNA, along some railroad tracks.

Posted by: Bill Barnes - Lakeville
on: 2019-09-09 13:57:06

It just volunteered in our Dakota County oak woods/savanna back yard.

Posted by: Daniel Jones - Morton Outcrops SNA, Renville Co.
on: 2020-08-19 13:19:30

While doing the Morton Outcrops Self Bio-Blitz on August 18, 2020, I found two large individual plants, both near the end of flowering, immediately adjacent to one of the large rock outcrop "flats" at the SNA. I had not seen this species before...very exciting! A beautiful plant. Not sure if it's been recorded in Renville County before.

Posted by: Daniel Jones - Morton Outcrops SNA
on: 2020-09-03 15:14:13

Following up on my previous post...Kari Wallin at DNR SNAs contacted me and verified that this is in fact the first recorded occurrence of A. nepetoides in Renville County!! SNA manager Brad Boldaun may be going out to collect a specimen for the record.

Posted by: B. McIntyre - Pope County
on: 2023-06-15 16:23:41

Interestingly enough, this very large Agastache recently showed up in one of my botanical gardens. A proper place for it to show up, to be sure. I could not figure out for the life of me what this giant catnip looking plant was for a while. Now I know because of this website, so thank you! It has not bloomed as of yet, but I am fairly certain that it is Agastache nepetoides nonetheless. We live very near the Ordway Prairie, and I often get various volunteers of many plants that grow there. A very cool Agastache, and definitely my new favourite. It can certainly be found here in Pope County.

Posted by: K Chayka
on: 2023-06-15 19:25:04

B. McIntyre, Pope County would be a bit out of its natural range. It's also more of a woodland species so Ordway prairie would be an odd place to find it. While it's not impossible you do have A. nepetoides, it is more likely a different species. You'll know when it blooms.

Posted by: B. McIntyre - Pope County
on: 2023-06-16 09:33:47

Thanks for the reply, Katy. You are absolutely correct. The plant is not growing in what is considered its native range, but is growing in my woodland garden. I am anticipating the flowers with much curiosity, as then I will know for sure. Everything else fits for it in description, and it is certainly not a Nepeta cataria. The leaves have no scent that I can detect and the leaves are quite large and deep green. Square stems and pretty typical Lamiaceae characteristics. Perhaps another Agastache, but definitely not A. foeniculum. I will certainly update you and the site when I get it correctly identified. Thanks again, Katy.

Posted by: B. McIntyre - Pope County
on: 2023-07-27 16:52:29

Update: I see where I went wrong now! The plant I described in my original post above, has turned out to be Verbena urticifolia! I see where I got confused between Lamiaceae and Verbenaceae. The plant is now blooming, with small, white flowers that have a rather nice sweet almond scent to them. They seem more fragrant in the early morning and in the evening, but it is definitely this plant's flowers giving off the scent. Neat plant, and not one I was familiar with until now. It is about 4 feet tall, square stems, and dark green nettle-like leaves. So, not an Agastache at all, but a Verbena instead!

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