065. Hyssopus officinalis. Common hyssop.

Botanical name: 

065. Hyssopus officinalis. 065. Hyssopus officinalis. C. Synonyma. Hyssopus. Pharm. Edinb.
Hyssopus Officinarum caerulea sive spicata. Bauh. Pin. p. 217.
Hyssopus vulgaris. Park. Theat.
Hyssopus Arabum. Gerard. Emac. p. 576.
Hyssopus vulgaris spicatus angustifolius. J. Bauh. Hist. iii. p. 274. Raii Hist. p. 516.
Hyssopus foliis linearibus punctatis, verticillis in spica continuatis. Hal. Stirp. Helv. n. 249. Jacquin Flor. Aust. t. 254.
Varietates sunt,
α foliis glabris, floribus caeruleis:
β foliis glabris, floribus rubris:
γ foliis glabris, floribus albis:
δ foliis pilosis. Aiton's Hort. Kew.

Class Didynamia. Ord. Gymnospermia. Lin. Gen. Plant. 709.
Ess. Gen. Ch. Corolla labium inferius lacinula intermedia crenata. Stamina recta, distantia.
Spec. Char. H. spicis secundis, foliis lanceolatis.

The root is perennial, knobbed, woody, and furnished with many long fibres: the stalk is shrubby, somewhat square, upright, much branched, and rises about two feet in height: the leaves are long, narrow, elliptical, entire, obtusely pointed, of a deep green colour, and stand in pairs without footstalks: the flowers are produced chiefly on one side, in short verticillated spikes, terminating the branches, and are of a blue colour: the calyx is tubular, striated, and divided at the extremity into five pointed segments: the corolla is monopetalous, and consists of a narrow tube, which divides at the limb into two expanded lips; the uppermost is short, roundish, and notched at the apex; the lowermost is separated into three segments, of which the undermost is very large, and inversely heart-shaped: the filaments are four, two long and two short, and crowned with simple antherae: the style is slender, and divided at the top into a double stigma: the germen is separated into four parts or seeds, which are lodged at the bottom of the calyx. It is a native of Siberia, and the mountainous parts of Austria, and flowers from June till September.

The Hyssop, mentioned in the Old Testament, is not supposed to be the plant here described, which is neither the Esof the Hebrews, nor the (greek) of the Greeks. [Vide Le Clerc's Hist. p. 626. cited by Alston, who says, I shall only take notice that (greek) in St. Matthew's Gospel, chap, xxvii. ver. 48. is (greek) in St. John's, chap. xix. ver. 29. Probably it is the Zufe or cyfe, i. e. Hyssop of the Arabians. Lect. on the M. M. v. ii. p. 152.] It was first cultivated in England by Gerard, [Vide Hort. Kew.] in 1596, and is now extremely common in our gardens. "The leaves of Hyssop have an aromatic smell, and a bitterish moderately warm taste. They give out their active matter both to water and to rectified spirit; to the last most perfectly. On inspissating the spirituous tincture, very little of the flavour of the herb exhales or distills with the menstruum: the remaining extract is bitterish, and very warm, and discovers a penetrating pungency, somewhat like that of camphor. Water, distilled from the fresh herb, is found pretty strongly impregnated with its flavour: an essential oil separates and rises to the surface, which is very pungent, and in smell exactly resembles the Hyssop." [Lewis M. M. p. 348.]

Dr. Cullen classes this and all the verticillated plants as stimulants, and this quality is to be ascribed to the quantity of essential oil which they contain; the Hyssop therefore may be esteemed aromatic and stimulant; and with a view to these effects, Bergius recommends it as an emmanagogue and antihysteric; [M. M. p. 512.] but it is chiefly employed as a pectoral, and has been long thought an useful medicine in humoral asthmas, coughs, & catarrhal affections; for this purpose, an infusion of the leaves, sweetened with honey or sugar, and drank as tea, is recommended by Lewis. The external application of Hyssop is said to be particularly efficacious in the way of fomentation and poultice, in contusions, and for removing the blackness occasioned by the extravassated fluids. [All the old writers praise it highly in this respect: Nec excluduntur sugillationes oculorum quibus herba intra sacculum aqua vel vino decocta clausis palpebris subvenit. Riolan. and Sim. Pauli. It is also recommended as a vermifuge by Rosenstein. Barnsjukd. p. 358.]

Medical Botany, 1790-1794, was written by William Woodville, M. D., and illustrated by James Sowerby.