Plant ID Anise hyssop

(Question)

I’m trying to identify a wild plant. The flowers smell like black licorice when you pinch them. I am unsure of its growing conditions besides its being in a small clearing in a forest near Thunder Bay Ontario.

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(Answer)

This appears to be  Anise hyssop (Agastache foeniculum)  – See Illinois Wildflowers. Anise Hyssop for a photo and more detailed description.  These plants have purplish flowers, and both leaves and flowers smell like black licorice when pinched.

There are a few other plants with licorice-scented flowers:

Sweet cicely (Myrrhis odorata) has small white flowers that bloom in clusters. All portions of the plant can be eaten and smell like anise/licorice.

Angelica (Angelica archangelica) flowers can range in colour from a light violet to a deep red, and its flowers taste mildly of licorice. Its stalks resemble celery – it’s also called wild celery.

Chervil (Anthriscus cerefolium) leaves and (small white) flowers taste of licorice as well.

Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) has small yellow flowers and leaves with a mild licorice flavour.

You may be interested in West Coast Seeds’ List of edible flowers.

I suggest that you have the plant positively identified if you are considering consuming any part of it.