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
Wetland Indicator Status:none
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!

Posted by: Cecilia - Circle Pines, MN 55014
on: 2015-08-20 23:03:32

This popped up in my flower bed this summer. I LOVE it - and so do the bumblebees. It has also attracted butterflies. I especially love that a monarch visits it everyday, and sometimes stays all day. How can I get it to grow deliberately - like in a different location? I love where it is because of the bees and butterflies - but is in a lopsided place in the group and I would like to see it more in the middle of the grouping because of the size. I also have another location I would like it at because of the Monarch. My neighbor has a grouping of Milkweed that would help the Monarch. Thank you.

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2015-08-21 21:31:28

Cecilia, collect the seeds then plant them wherever you like. Fall planting is probably best.

Posted by: Matt - S. Minneapolis
on: 2015-08-29 15:26:12

I dug out a "rain garden" in the front yard to help direct rainwater away from the house. I planted various native plants that don't mind getting their feet wet. The Giant and Purple Hyssop are doing great. Right this moment, there are 4 goldfinches eating the seeds, the blooms are full of bumblebees and honeybees, lots of butterflies (particularly either Red Admiral or Painted Lady; can't tell which is which). A lovely plant!

Posted by: Linda - Lexington, mn
on: 2016-09-20 19:49:33

This is my first year with this plant. As it got taller, it drooped over rather than standing tall and upright. In the coming years, will it get strong enough to not droop?

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2016-09-21 17:00:44

Linda, we have it in our garden and it also flops over. In its natural habitat it is often surrounded by grasses and other plants that give it support and keep it upright. Stake it if you like.

Posted by: Shannon - Osseo
on: 2017-04-23 11:36:31

Hello, I've been looking to plant flowers that honey bees will love. I'm new to gardening and I don't have much space for a garden, but I have several small areas. Will this flower do well in a small area, or does it need a lot of space? Thanks!

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2017-04-23 20:59:09

Shannon, honey bees are European in origin and attracted to many different plants. What's more important is providing nectar and pollen sources for our native bees and other pollinators, which are more seriously threatened with extinction. There are a couple very good Facebook groups that discuss gardening with native plants for pollinators, or you could learn more about the subject from groups such as Wild Ones, which is a national organization with several chapters in Minnesota. Also check out books by Heather Holm that give you a primer on relationships between specific insects and plants.

Posted by: Matthew - Bloomington
on: 2017-04-25 23:30:35

If you want to help native bees out especially our 18 native bumblebees, plant this wild mint. I love the look and smell of this flower and so do the bees. It has flowers till the first frost and the bees will be on it till the bitter end. If you plant one you will not have any trouble getting seeds or having these plants pop up everywhere there is bare soil. It grows pretty much anywhere and is a very hardy plant.

Posted by: jacques - Rochester
on: 2017-05-31 18:37:30

"Will this flower do well in a small area, or does it need a lot of space?" It tends to self sow and winds up everywhere, but isn't what I'd call invasive. I love this stuff so the more it spreads, the happier I am. Many species of bees like it too.

Posted by: Cliff B - Lake Wobegon Trails west of Avon about mile marker 93-94
on: 2017-08-02 09:28:18

They were in full bloom this past week and lots of them. Always a great find on the Lake Wobegon Trail.

Posted by: Becky - Sherburne County
on: 2017-08-02 16:48:43

This is growing wild all over an unused pasture of ours. Love the licorice smell!

Posted by: Kim - Bear Head Lake State Park
on: 2017-09-01 11:04:09

Watched about half a dozen bees awaken out of their sluggishness (it was below 50 this morning) in a field of hyssop (I am guessing since it's been hard to identify this plant).

Posted by: Terry S - Minneapolis
on: 2017-10-04 10:49:26

Given the extent to which A. rugosa has contaminated the native plant trade, I'd urge/recommend/suggest adding that species and cross-referencing from A. foeniculum. I know lots of people who have A. rugosa in case you need a specimen! :)

Posted by: BV - Woodbury
on: 2018-04-10 09:50:25

We have a real issue with bunnies. Can you tell me if rabbits are attracted to this plant? We have a waterfall in our backyard & I've surrounded it with wildflower-looking perennials but the rabbits are eating almost everything. Any suggestions of flowering perennials that the rabbits won't touch?

Posted by: Dave J Crawford - White Bear Lake
on: 2018-09-09 16:53:24

Do you have any evidence of Agastache rugosa (Korean mint, often mistakenly sold as A. foeniculum) becoming naturalized in Minnesota? It's in enough "native" wildflower plantings that it would seem to be only a matter of time before it starts popping up in the wild.

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2018-09-09 19:26:47

Dave, we haven't seen any in the wild, only plantings.

Posted by: Maureen - rural St. Cloud
on: 2019-08-16 15:10:51

I planted 2 plants last year and now it self seeded and covers an area about 6' x 6' beside my small green house. Some of the plants are close to 6' tall!

Posted by: Teri McNamara - Robbinsdale (Minneapolis suburb)
on: 2020-12-01 02:42:49

I am wondering whether it will be more likely to go wild in sun or in shade. I have plenty of shade spots, and a pollinator garden in the only really sunny spot I have, but don't really need anything taking over. Thank you in advance for the reply, and for this fabulous website!

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2020-12-01 06:59:33

Teri, blue giant hyssop can tolerate shade but is more likely to thrive in a sunny location.

Posted by: Laura Segala - Fazendin Native Plant Pollinator Garden - Plymouth
on: 2023-08-09 16:30:10

Planted last year at the Fazendin Native Plant Pollinator Garden in Plymouth.

Posted by: Shari - Marion Iowa
on: 2024-06-19 16:38:56

I?m just curious where I can find the blue giant hyssop seeds or plants so I can help them not to be endangered in Iowa please and thank you.

Posted by: K Chayka
on: 2024-06-19 17:42:38

Shari, check native plant vendors, some of which will mail order seeds and/or plants.

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