Mentha mint plant

(men' tha)

Common name: Mint

Family: Lamiaceae, Mint

Height x width: 6"-3' x 12-36"

Growth rate: fast

Foliage: opposite, various shapes and sizes, often serrate or cut margins, surface often slightly hairy, square stems, very aromatic (photo courtesy commons.wikimedia, Simon Eugster)

Flowers: pink, purple or white in whorls on axillary or terminal spikes; summer

Hardiness: perennial, zones 3-7 to 7-9

Soil: moist, tolerates extremes

Light: sun, part shade

Pests and problems: powdery mildew, rusts, aphids, four-lined plant bug, Japanese beetle

Landscape habit, uses: herb and scented gardens, containers, non-critical areas and terrain (since invasive, as for erosion control), wet areas, indoors.

Culinary--pick leaves just before flowering; dry, freeze or infuse leaves in oil or vinegar; teas (single or blended varieties), mint sauce, desserts, potatoes, peas, drinks

Household--supposedly deters aphids from roses, mice from food when leaves scattered, ants and fleas from cupboards and beds

Cosmetic--decoction for chapped hands, refreshing bath

Medicinal--use spearmints inhaled for cold relief; peppermints to help digestion, colds and flu

Aromatherapy--macerate spearmint or peppermint leaves in oil and use to massage head for migraines and muscles for aches

Other interest: named for Minthe, a nymph in Greek mythology who was transformed by Pluto into this herb; mentioned in the Bible as form of tithe payment; laid on floors of synagogue floors and later in Italian churches where it is refered to as Erba Santa Maria; used as a symbol of hospitality by the Romans and to flavor wines and sauces; many varieties already selected and refered to my 9th century monks; used as a strewing herb in the Middle Ages to mask unpleasant odors; native to Eurasia and Africa; crosses readily so over 600 named hybrids.

Other culture: creeping, invasive rhizomes make it undesirable for borders

Propagation: division, cuttings, seed (400,000 seeds per ounce)

Species:

aquatica (ah-qua' ti-ka)--Watermint, cold hardy to zone 6, 6"-36" tall, tomentose stems often red, leaves ovate ¾-2" long, strong menthol flavor

arvensis (ar-ven' siss)--Corn Mint, cold hardy to zone 4, 4-24" tall, ovate leaves ½-2½" long

x gracilis (gra-sill' iss)(x gentilis)--Gingermint, arvensis and spicata hybrid, cold hardy to zone 6, 6-36" tall, leaves ¾-2" long and variably lanceolate, fruity scent and ginger flavor

haplocalyx (hap-low-caa' licks)--Chinese Mint, sweet spearmint flavor and aroma

longifolia (lon-gi-fol' ee-ah)--Horsemint or Silver Mint, cold hardy to zone 4, slender gray-green leaves with spearmint odor

x piperita (pie-per-ee' tah)--Peppermint, aquatica and spicata hybrid, cold hardy to zone 3, 1-3' tall, leaves ovate to lanceolate 1½-3½" long

pulegium (pew-lee' gee-um)--Pennyroyal, cold hardy to zone 7, 4-12" tall, leaves narrowly oval ¼-1" long and bright green, peppermint scent, creeping stems root where touch soil

requienii (re-quee' nee-ii)--Corsican Mint, cold hardy to zone 6, ¼-½" tall creeping to 4" across, leaves minute 2mm, peppermint scent, miniature lilac flowers

spicata (spii-cah' tah)--Spearmint, cold hardy to zone 3, 1-3' tall, lanceolate leaves 2-3½" long, best cooking mint

suaveolens (swa-vee-o' lens)--Applemint, cold hardy to zone 6, 15-36" tall, leaves 1-2" long and rugose (long hairy), apple scent

x villosa (vil-low' sah)--Hairymint, spicata and suaveolens hybrid, cold hardy to zone 5, variable, pink flowers
 


Cultivars:
 
Cultivars, other taxa species leaves
'Alopecuroides' x villosa large, round, apple/spearmint scent, Bowles Mint
'Candymint' x piperita stems tinted red, used often in teas
'Chocolate; x piperita vague chocolate mint scent
'Citrata' x aquatica smooth, lemon scent
'Citrata' x piperita smooth, purple tingled, bergamot scent, Orange Mint
'Crispa' x piperita dark green, strong, purple stems, crinkled margins
'Crispa' spicata crinkled, deep green, apple scent, Curled Spearmint
'Grapefruit' -- spearmint tinted with grapefruit, suavelens x piperita
'Hillary's Sweet Lemon' -- apple and lime hybrid, named for Hillary Clinton
'Kentucky Colonel' x villosa large, ruffled, richly scented
'Lime Mint' x piperita lime scent
'Menthol' spicata pungent, useful in teas, Menthol Mint
'Moroccan' spicata spearmint flavor
'Upright' pulegium strong peppermint, upright 12" tall
'Variegata' suaveolens cream edge, applemint flavor, Pineapple Mint
'Variegata' x gentilis gold-splashed, slightly spicy
'Variegata' x piperita white splashed, quickly reverts if unpruned
'Vietnamese Mint' x gracilis sweet spearmint flavor used in Vietnamese cooking
var. villosa arvensis Japanese menthol source, Japanese Mint


©Authored by Dr. Leonard Perry, Professor, University of Vermont as part of PSS123 course.

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