Agastache foeniculum - (Pursh) Kuntze
Blue Giant-hyssop
Other Common Names: blue giant hyssop
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Agastache foeniculum (Pursh) Kuntze (TSN 32440)
French Common Names: agastache fenouil
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.137289
Element Code: PDLAM03040
Informal Taxonomy: Plants, Vascular - Flowering Plants - Mint Family
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Plantae Anthophyta Dicotyledoneae Lamiales Lamiaceae Agastache
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.
Concept Reference Code: B94KAR01HQUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Agastache foeniculum
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G5
Global Status Last Reviewed: 13May2016
Global Status Last Changed: 13May2016
Ranking Methodology Used: Ranked by inspection
Rounded Global Status: G5 - 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).
Nation: United States
National Status: NNR
Nation: Canada
National Status: N5 (13May2016)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
United States Colorado (S1), Connecticut (SNA), Delaware (SNA), Illinois (SNR), Iowa (S1), Kentucky (SNA), Michigan (SNA), Minnesota (SNR), Montana (SU), Nebraska (S1), New Hampshire (SNR), New York (SNA), North Dakota (SNR), Pennsylvania (SNR), South Dakota (SNR), Washington (SNR), Wisconsin (SNR), Wyoming (S2)
Canada Alberta (S4), British Columbia (SNA), Manitoba (S5), New Brunswick (SNA), Northwest Territories (SNR), Ontario (S4), Quebec (SNA), Saskatchewan (S5)

Other Statuses

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent Comments: 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).

Number of Occurrences: 81 to >300
Number of Occurrences 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).

Population Size Comments: Two occurrences in Nebraska contain 10-50 individuals (Nebraska Natural Heritage Program). This is the only quantitative information available at this time. Other accounts from Nebraska describe individual populations as "scattered" or "common." The species typically grows in dense, clonal patches.

Overall Threat Impact 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).

Short-term Trend: Decline of 10-30%
Short-term Trend 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.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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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).

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces
Color legend for Distribution Map

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States CO, CTexotic, DEexotic, IA, IL, KYexotic, MIexotic, MN, MT, ND, NE, NH, NYexotic, PA, SD, WA, WI, WY
Canada AB, BCexotic, MB, NBexotic, NT, ON, QCexotic, SK

Range Map
No map available.


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
CO Huerfano (08055), Jefferson (08059)*, Larimer (08069)*, Las Animas (08071)*, Pueblo (08101), Routt (08107)*
IA Clayton (19043)*, Dickinson (19059)*, Emmet (19063)*, Lyon (19119)*, Story (19169)*
NE Dawes (31045), Sheridan (31161), Sioux (31165)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
07 Coon-Yellow (07060001)+*, Grant-Little Maquoketa (07060003)+*, South Skunk (07080105)+*, Upper Des Moines (07100002)+*
10 Hat (10120108)+, Upper White (10140201)+, Niobrara Headwaters (10150002)+*, Snake (10150005)+, Lower Big Sioux (10170203)+*, Upper South Platte (10190002)+*, Big Thompson (10190006)+*, Cache La Poudre (10190007)+*, Little Sioux (10230003)+*
11 Upper Arkansas (11020002)+, Huerfano (11020006)+, Purgatoire (11020010)+*, Canadian headwaters (11080001)+*
14 Upper Yampa (14050001)+*
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: Agastache foeniculum is an upright perennial herb roughly 0.5 to 1m tall, with terminal clusters of small blue flowers. A. foeniculum occurs in prairies and woods, and grows mostly in central portions of North America (Gleason and Cronquist 1963, Great Plains Flora Association 1986).
Habitat 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).
Economic Attributes
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Economically Important Genus: Y
Commercial Importance: Indigenous crop, Minor cash crop
Economic Uses: FOOD, MEDICINE/DRUG
Production Method: Cultivated
Economic 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.)

Management Summary Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Delineation Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Viability
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U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
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Authors/Contributors
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NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 25Feb2001
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Susan Spackman, David Anderson, and Steve Thomas (1/00); rev. Eric Nielsen and Larry Morse (1/00); rev. Eric Nielsen (2/00)

Botanical data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs), The North Carolina Botanical Garden, and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

References
Help
  • Ayers, G.S., and M.P. Widrlechner. 1994a. The genus Agastache as bee forage: A historical perspective. American Bee Journal 134(5): 341-348.

  • Ayers, G.S., and M.P. Widrlechner. 1994b. The genus Agastache as bee forage: An analysis of reader returns. American Bee Journal 134(7): 477-483.

  • Francis, F.J. 1985. Pigments and other colorants. In: Femenna, O.R. (ed.) Food chemistry. 2nd edition. Marcel Dekker Inc., New York.

  • Fuentes-Granados, R.G., M.P. Widrlechner, and L.A. Wilson. 1998. An overview of Agastache research. Journal of Herbs, Spices and Medicinal Plants 6(1): 69-97.

  • Fuentes-Granados, R.G., and M.P. Widrlechner. 1995b. Diversity among and within populations of Agastache foeniculum. In: Hartnett, D. (ed.) Proceedings of the 14th annual North American prairie conference. Kansas State University, Manhattan.

  • Fuentes-Granados, R.G., and M.P. Widrlechnera. 1995a. Evaluation of Agastache and other Lamiaceae species for reaction to Verticillium dahliae. Journal of Herbs, Spices and Medicinal Plants 3(3): 3-11.

  • Galambosi, B., and Z. Galambosi-Szebeni. 1992. Studies on the cultivation methods of Agastache foeniculum in Finland. Acta Agronomica Hungarica 41: 107-115.

  • Gill, L.S. 1979. Cytotaxonomic studies of the tribe Nepeteae (Labiatae) in Canada. Genetica 50: 111-117.

  • Gill, L.S. 1980. Reproductive biology of the Canadian Labiatae. Phytologia 47: 89-96.

  • Gleason, H.A., and A. Cronquist. 1963. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. D. Van Nostrand Company, New York, NY. 810 pp.

  • Great Plains Flora Association. 1986. Flora of the Great Plains. University Press of Kansas, Lawrence, KS.

  • Great Plains Flora Association. 1986. Flora of the Great Plains. University of Kansas Press, Lawrence. 1392 pp.

  • Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.

  • LInt, H. et C. Epling. 1945. A revision of Agastache. American Midland Naturalist 33 207-230.

  • Lint, H., and C. Epling. 1945. A revision of Agastache. American Midland Naturalist 33: 207-230.

  • Mayer, D.F., C.A. Johansen, and J.C. Bach. 1982. Land-based honey production. American Bee Journal 123: 379-380.

  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service. 1999. November 3-last update. The PLANTS database. Online. Available: http://plants.usda.gov/plants. Accessed 2000-Jan.

  • Weber, W.A., and R.C. Wittmann. 1996b. Colorado flora: Western slope. Univ. Press of Colorado, Niwot, Colorado. 496 pp.

  • Weber, William A. and Ronald C. Wittmann. 1996. Colorado Flora: Eastern Slope.

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