Overview

Comprehensive Description

Description

This native perennial plant is 2-3½' tall, branching occasionally near the apex. The four-angled stems are light green and glabrous to finely pubescent. The opposite leaves are up to 4" long and 2" across, and they have short petioles. The leaves are cordate to broadly lanceolate in shape and their margins are crenate to crenate-serrate. The upper surface of the leaves is conspicuously veined and dull green, while the lower surface is white and finely canescent. The foliage has an anise scent.  The upper stems terminate in spikes of flowers about 3-6" long. The small flowers are arranged in dense whorls that are crowded along the spike, although sometimes the whorls are less crowded and more interrupted. The calyx of a flower is tubular and has five teeth; it is usually dull blue-violet or a similar color, becoming more colorful toward its tips. The tubular flowers are about 1/3" long, extending beyond the calyx. They are blue-violet. The corolla of a flower is divided into a short upper lip and a longer lower lip. The lower lip has 2 small lateral lobes and a larger central lobe. Exerted from the throat of the flower are 4 stamens with blue-violet anthers, and a style that is cleft toward its tip. The flowers bloom in scattered locations along the spikes for about 1-2 months from mid- to late summer. During this time, calyx of each flower remains somewhat colorful. There is no floral scent. The flowers are replaced by nutlets that are oval-shaped and smooth. The root system produces a taproot.
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Distribution

Range and Habitat in Illinois

In the wild, Anise Hyssop is rare in Illinois; it is known to occur in only Menard county in central Illinois (see Distribution Map). This species is more common in areas that lie northwest of Illinois. Typical habitats include openings in dry upland forests, upland areas of prairies, scrubby barrens, and thickets. Cultivated forms of Anise Hyssop are often grown in flower gardens; these cultivars are often hybrids and vary in their fidelity to the wild forms of this plant. Outside of Menard county, populations in the wild are likely to be plants that have escaped cultivation.
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National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

United States

Origin: Unknown/Undetermined

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

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Global Range: The distribution of A. foeniculum is centered on the northern Plains states, with diminishing occurrences east towards the Atlantic, west towards Washington, north into Canada, and south into Colorado, Nebraska, and Kentucky (USDA-NRCS 1999). A. foeniculum is apparently restricted to North America. The more eastern and western populations of this species (Montana, Washington, and east from Minnesota, Illinois, and western Ontario) are apparently introduced (Lint and Epling 1945, Gleason and Cronquist 1963, Great Plains Flora Association 1986, New Hampshire Natural Heritage Inventory). In Manitoba, the plant occurs in the southern half of the province (Manitoba Conservation Data Centre).

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Ecology

Habitat

Range and Habitat in Illinois

In the wild, Anise Hyssop is rare in Illinois; it is known to occur in only Menard county in central Illinois (see Distribution Map). This species is more common in areas that lie northwest of Illinois. Typical habitats include openings in dry upland forests, upland areas of prairies, scrubby barrens, and thickets. Cultivated forms of Anise Hyssop are often grown in flower gardens; these cultivars are often hybrids and vary in their fidelity to the wild forms of this plant. Outside of Menard county, populations in the wild are likely to be plants that have escaped cultivation.
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Comments: In the eastern part of its range (roughly east from Wisconsin and Illinois) A. foeniculum grows in prairies and dry woods (Gleason and Cronquist 1963), but further west, its habitat becomes more that of moist woods, lakeshores, and open, wet ditches (Great Plains Flora Association 1986). In Ontario it is reported from dry, open, rocky sites (Ontario Natural Heritage Information Centre). In Michigan it is found in dry fields and forest clearings (Michigan Natural Features Inventory). In southeastern Montana it is found in pine woodlands, while in northeastern Montana it is found in woody ravines (Montana Natural Heritage Program).

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Associations

Faunal Associations

The flowers are cross-pollinated primarily by honeybees, bumblebees, digger bees (Melissodes spp.), leaf-cutting bees (Megachile spp.), Halictid bees (Lasioglossum spp., etc.), and Masked bees (Hylaeus spp.), which seek nectar or pollen. The flowers are also visited by an oligolectic bee, Dufourea monardae, which has extended its range into Illinois. Other occasional floral visitors are Syrphid flies, bee flies, and various butterflies, skippers, and moths. Mammalian herbivores normally avoid consumption of this plant as the anise scent of the foliage is repugnant to them. The anise scent may also deter some leaf-chewing insect species.
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Flower-Visiting Insects of Anise Hyssop in Illinois

Agastache foeniculum (Anise Hyssop)
(Bees suck nectar or collect pollen, flies & beetles suck nectar or feed on pollen, other insects suck nectar; one observation is from Moure & Hurd as indicated below, otherwise they are from Reed)

Bees (long-tongued)
Apidae (Apinae): Apis mellifera; Apidae (Bombini): Bombus affinis, Bombus bimaculatus, Bombus fervida, Bombus griseocallis, Bombus impatiens, Bombus vagans; Anthophoridae (Ceratinini): Ceratina sp.; Megachilidae (Anthidinini): Anthidium psoraleae; Megachilidae (Megachilini): Megachile latimanus; Megachilidae (Trypetini): Heriades carinatum

Bees (short-tongued)
Halictidae (Dufoureinae): Dufourea monardae cp olg (MH, Re); Halictidae (Halictinae): Augochlorella striata, Halictus rubicunda, Lasioglossum sp., Lasioglossum albipennis, Lasioglossum cressonii, Lasioglossum heterognathus, Lasioglossum illinoensis, Lasioglossum imitatus, Lasioglossum laevissimus, Lasioglossum paraforbesii, Lasioglossum pictus, Lasioglossum pilosus, Lasioglossum pruinosus, Lasioglossum rohweri, Lasioglossum tegularis, Lasioglossum zephyrus; Colletidae (Hylaeinae): Hylaeus affinis, Hylaeus mesillae, Hylaeus modestus modestus

Wasps
Perilampidae: Perilampus hyalinus

Flies
Syrphidae: Allograpta obliqua, Orthonevra sp., Sphaerophoria contiqua, Syrphus sp., Toxomerus marginatus; Bombyliidae: Exoprosopa sp., Systoechus sp.

Butterflies
Nymphalidae: Cercyonis pegala alope, Vanessa cardui; Lycaenidae: Celastrina argiolus

Skippers
Hesperiidae: Epargyreus clarus, Thorybes pylades

Moths
Ctenuchidae: Cisseps fulvicollis; Sphingidae: Hemaris diffinis

Beetles
Cantharidae: Chauliognathus pennsylvanicus; Meloidae: Epicauta pensylvanica

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Population Biology

Number of Occurrences

Note: For many non-migratory species, occurrences are roughly equivalent to populations.

Estimated Number of Occurrences: 81 to >300

Comments: 150-200+ occurrences of this species appear to be extant rangewide. Manitoba: >100; Michigan: 3 counties; Nebraska: 8, only 5 visited since the 1970s; Colorado: 8, 6 last observed around 1900; Wyoming: 7 extant and 2 historic; Montana: 7 sites in 7 counties in the east, although the state flora only reports it from 2 counties, both of which represent collections from plantings or possibly horticultural escapes; Ontario: reportedly "widespread and locally common" in the northwest, but some occurrences in the south are apparently adventive; British Columbia: 4, all last observed before 1950; apparently exotic in Connecticut, Delaware, and New York (Natural Heritage Programs and Conservation Data Centres).

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Agastache foeniculum

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Agastache foeniculum

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 4
Specimens with Barcodes: 4
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G4 - Apparently Secure

Reasons: This species is apparently most abundant and secure in south-central Canada, but is considered rare in most of the rest of its native range (and has been established as an exotic in a few other places).

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Global Short Term Trend: Decline of 10-30%

Comments: Prairies are one of the major habitats of this species, especially on the eastern side of its range. Most mixed-grass and tallgrass prairies have been destroyed for crop production. It is likely that many populations of A. foeniculum were lost in this process, and that contemporary distribution maps in this region could only record a skeleton of its former distribution pattern. However, given the number of extant (though small and degraded) prairie and woodland remnants through this eastern portion of the range, current distribution maps (USDA-NRCS 1999) suggest that this species was not originally common here. Suggestions that A. foeniculum is introduced in the most eastern portion of its range (Gleason and Cronquist 1963, Great Plains Flora Association 1986) imply that at least there it is not especially vulnerable to decline (or, of little conservation significance if within this region it is in decline). However, due to its preference for prairie, it is likely that native wild populations are still feeling the effects of habitat loss. Ayers and Widrlechner (1994a) has a good review of historical records of this plant.

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Threats

Comments: Threats are habitat loss, grazing, exotic species, lack of fire, road maintenance, and wild-collection. In Manitoba, direct and indirect evidence exists of wild-collection for the plant trade. This collection probably occurs from tall grass prairie sites in the vicinity of Winnipeg (Elizabeth Punter pers. comm.). The species is reportedly "easy to collect" (Robyn Klein pers. comm.). Trade in the plant is minor, and it is cultivated but perhaps not broadly (Michael McGuffin pers. comm.). Because it grows readily and quickly from seed, it is presumed that if wild collection of this species increases in the future, the impact on wild populations could be offset rather easily by cultivation.

Most mixed grass and tallgrass prairie communities have been destroyed for agriculture. Many of the prairie communities that remain are ecologically strained by grazing, invasive species, or lack of adequate ecological management. Many dry or upland woods in the eastern half of North America have experienced dramatic reductions in fire events, causing changes in species composition, community structure, and hydrological conditions. These changes to eastern woodland communities may translate to habitat loss for this species, though it is not apparent that cause-effect relationship has been demonstrated anywhere.

In the western parts of its range, this species is found in areas that are often heavily impacted by grazing, such as moist woodlands, mesic meadows, and streambanks and lakeshores in the shortgrass and mixed-grass prairie regions. Trampling and grazing of this species by cattle has been observed in Nebraska. Occurrences in northeastern Montana are located on private land in woody ravines, and are reportedly threatened, presumably due to current land use practices. Populations in southeastern Montana, found in pine woods, have persisted under fire and logging, but are vulnerable to weed invasion and increases in grazing intensity (Bonnie Heidel pers. comm.).

In Manitoba, threats are road maintenance activities, haying, grazing, and wild-collection (Elizabeth Punter pers. comm.). This species is apparently less susceptible to damage from Verticillium wilt (a fungal disease caused by the widely distributed Verticillium spp.) than one of the other commonly cultivated species, the non-native Agastache rugosa (Fuentes-Granados and Widrlechner 1995).

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Management

Biological Research Needs: Development of a reliable conservation assessment or strategy for this species probably requires the following information: (1) Whether eastern-most populations are introduced, and if so by whom, and when. (Native American for medicinal use in prehistoric times? Recent introductions in hay seed?) (2) Whether populations in the approximate tallgrass prairie biome occur on sites which are receiving adequate ecological management. (3) Whether the eastern dry woods occurrences of this species are suffering from lack of fire, and if this also translates into a threat for A. foeniculum. (4) How well this species survives in the context of cattle grazing, noxious weed invasion, and water diversion in the shortgrass prairie region.

The North Central Regional Plant Introduction Station at Iowa State University has been working with A. foeniculum since the mid-1980's, and a comprehensive review of research on the non-bee uses of this plant has recently been published by this organization (Mark Widrlechner pers. comm.).

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Cultivation

The preference is full or partial sun, and mesic to dry conditions. The soil can consist of loam, clay-loam, or contain some rocky material. Foliar disease isn't a significant problem, although some of the lower leaves may drop from the central stem in response to a drought. Occasionally, slugs and insects will feed on the leaves, creating holes. This member of the Mint family is more resistant to drought than many others.
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Economic Uses

Uses: FOOD, MEDICINE/DRUG

Production Methods: Cultivated

Comments: The aerial portions of the plant are used for a variety of medicinal uses. The volatile oils are reputed to be useful for their antimicrobial action, which helps wounds heal. The tannins found in the plant also have astringent and antimicrobial properties. Many mint genera are used for nervine (anti-anxiety and nerve tonic) uses. Many Indian tribes, who refer to the species variously as bear mint, horse mint, and elk mint, use A. foeniculum as a beverage tea. It was also used for colds, coughing, and for a weak heart (Robyn Klein pers. comm.).

Prices for this species were found as follows:

California, internet: $3.25/live individual plant (mail order delivery)

Pennsylvania, internet: $0.73/oz of dried "hyssop herb"; could be another species

Unknown location: $10-20/lb of dried aerial portions (Robyn Klein pers. comm.)

Manitoba: $1.95 Canadian/plant (1995 price), $3.26-3.56 Canadian/packet of seed (1998 price) (Elizabeth Punter pers. comm.)

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Wikipedia

Agastache foeniculum

Agastache foeniculum (blue giant hyssop; syn. Agastache anethiodora (Nutt.) Britton), commonly called anise hyssop, blue giant hyssop, Fragrant giant hyssop, or the lavender giant hyssop, is a species of perennial plant in the mint family, (Lamiaceae). This plant is native to much of north-central and northern North America, notably the Great Plains and other prairies, and can be found in areas of Canada.[1] It is tolerant of deer and drought, and also attracts hummingbirds and butterflies making it an attractive selection for gardeners. [2]

Anise hyssop is in the same family as hyssop (the mint family Lamiaceae), but they are not closely related. Hyssop (Hyssopus) is a genus of about 10-12 species of herbaceous or semi-woody plants native from the east Mediterranean to central Asia.[1] The genus name is related to the flower clusters, derived from the Greek word argan meaning "ear of grain".[3]

Description[edit]

This species grows from 2 feet (0.61 m) to 4 feet (1.2 m) tall and 1 foot (0.30 m) wide, in a clump-like, upright shape, with flowers appearing in showy verticillasters, or false whorls, and occasionally branching at the apex.[4] The leaves have an oval, toothed shape with a white tint underneath. The plant blooms in June to September with bright lavender flowers that become more colorful near the tip. The flowers produce no floral scent.[4] The root system produces a taproot.[2][5]

Uses[edit]

Anise hyssop was used medicinally by Native Americans for cough, fevers, wounds, diarrhea. The soft, anise-scented leaves[5] are used as a seasoning, as a tea, in potpourri, and can be crumbled in salad. The purple flower spike is favored by bees who make a light fragrant honey from the nectar.[6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c USDA PLANTS Profile for Agastache foeniculum
  2. ^ a b "Agastache foeniculum". Missouri Botanical Gardens. Retrieved 20 December 2013. 
  3. ^ "Blue giant hyssop". Wildflower. Retrieved 20 December 2013. 
  4. ^ a b "Anise hyssop". Illinois Wildflowers. Retrieved 20 December 2013. 
  5. ^ a b "Agastache foeniculum (Anise hyssop)". Fine Gardening. Retrieved 20 December 2013. 
  6. ^ "Herbs"; Smithsonian Handbook - Lesley Bremness
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