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Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis)

Plant family

Lamiaceae (mint family).

Botanical synonyms



The plant is thought to be of Mediterranean origin.

Used plant part

All aerial parts of the plant (stem, leaves, flowers) are used together. The dried plant is less aromatic than the fresh one.

Sensoric quality

Aromatic and slightly bitter.

Main constituents

The content of essential oil is rather low (0.3 to 0.9%); it is mostly composed of cineol, -pinene and a variety of bicyclic monoterpene derivatives (L-pinocamphene, isopinocamphone, pinocarvone).

As many other plant of the mint family, hyssop contains rather large amounts of bitter and antioxidative tannines: Phenols with a diterpenoid skeleton (carnosol, carnosolic acid), depsides of coffeic acid (= 3,4-dihydroxycinnamic acid) and several triterpenoid acids (ursolic and oleanolic acid).

Hyssop flowers


This plant with its dark blue flowers has only small value as a spice, because the aroma is weak (and reduced to nil after drying) and the taste rather bitter. It can, however, be used for robust, rustic dishes like potato or bean soup, and it goes well with fat meat; others suggest it to spice up calf and chicken, where it may be an interesting alternative to sage, whom hyssop resembles in its slight bitterness, but not in fragrance.

Source :

European Masters Degree in Food Studies - an Educational Journey

Master in Food Safety Law is an initiative of Wageningen University, The Netherlands