Apple mint medicinal uses

Apple Mint Quick Facts
Name: Apple Mint
Scientific Name: Mentha suaveolens
Origin Southern and western Europe
Taste Slight fruity flavor
Health benefits Beneficial for fever, headaches, digestive disorders, acne, colic, cramp, colds, flu, stress, shock, asthma, travel sickness, fatigue, epileptic seizures

Apple Mint scientifically known as Mentha suaveolens is also known as pineapple mint, woolly mint or round-leafed mint. It belongs to the scientific family Lamiaceae that also includes many of the other important aromatic cooking herbs, like basil, rosemary, sage, oregano, and catnip. It is a perennial plant belongs to the genus of Mentha. The plant is native to southern and western Europe including the Mediterranean region and is naturalized in central and northern parts of Europe. Other names occasionally used include Apple mint, Pineapple mint, Round-leaf mint, Round-leaved mint, Big-leaved mint, horse mint and woolly mint.

Genus name comes from Minthe or Menthe, a water nymph in Greek mythology, who was transformed by Persephone into a mint plant in revenge for Minthe’s ongoing affair with Hades (husband of Persephone). Specific epithet means sweet-scented. Both the leaves and stems of Apple mint are covered in fine hairs, hence its nickname wooly mint. Consider planting apple mint alongside cabbage, peas, tomatoes and broccoli to improve their flavor.

Plant Description

Apple mint is a vigorous rhizomatous, densely hairy, upright herbaceous perennial plant that grows about 40 to 100 centimeters (16 to 39 in) tall. The plant is found growing in damp ground that often dries out in summer. It grows well in heavy clay soils and normally prefers rich, moist and well-drained soil. The plant is most commonly grown as a culinary herb and/or ground cover. It spreads by rhizomes to form an attractive ground cover. Leaves are bright green in color. The shape of the leaves varies from oblong to ovate and they grow up to 3 cm to 5 cm (1.2 inches to 2.0 inches) in length and are about 2 cm to 4 cm (0.8 inch to 1.6 inches) wide. Leaves of apple mint have a slightly hairy top surface, on the downside they are downy and have serrated margins. Leaves have a fruity fragrance and taste, and may be used to flavor teas or in salads or as a garnish.

Flowers

The flowers of apple mint appear in terminal spikes that are about 4 cm to 9 cm (1.6 inches to 3.5 inches) in length and comprise several whorls of white-hued or pinkish blooms. The herb blossoms between mid-summer and the end of summer. The flowers grow in a tapering spike and the whorls are distant. The plant has got fruity and mint flavor of fragrance.

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Health Benefits of Apple Mint

Apple mint leaves have certain medicinal properties. Listed below are some of the popular health benefits of Apple Mint

1. Use as herbal tea

Apple mint is most widely used as medicinal tea. The leaves of apple mint are dried and powdered. It is then brewed as tea which can cure fever, headache, various digestive problems and various other minor ailments.

2. Antiseptic in nature

The leaves of the herb can be crushed and oil can be extracted from them. This oil is antiseptic in nature that is used widely for many medical purposes.

3. Cures Digestion problems

Flowers of the Apple mint can be used to make tea which will cure problems related to digestive system such as stomach upset, indigestion and worms in the intestine. This tea is also very refreshing in nature which has the power of healing headache.

4. Reduces the chances of cancer

Apple mint is rich in Vitamin A and C and is also said to contain minimal amount of Vitamin B2. These act as antioxidants which helps in preventing cancer cell formation in colon and rectal.

5. Other Health benefits

The crushed leaves of this plant are said to eliminate the pain caused by bee sting, wasp stings and other insect bites. They bring about a cooling effect on the affected part of the body.

Traditional uses and benefits of Apple Mint

  • Round leafed mint, like many other members of this genus, is often used as a domestic herbal remedy, being valued particularly for its antiseptic properties and its beneficial effect on the digestion.
  • Tea made from the leaves of most mint species has traditionally been used in the treatment of fevers, headaches, digestive disorders and various minor ailments.
  • Essential oil in the leaves is antiseptic, though it is toxic in large doses.
  • Monks had used it for curing epileptic fits since it was considered refreshing for the brain.
  • Apple mint leaves also help in breaking down fat and accelerating metabolism level.
  • Leaves have anti-cancer properties.
  • Powdered leaves can be used to whiten the teeth.
  • Essential oil extracted from the leaves is used in aromatherapy to cure acne, colic, cramp, colds, flu, stress, shock, asthma and travel sickness.
  • Plant has antiseptic properties, improves digestion, reduce fever, headaches, digestive disorders and other minor ailments.
  • Oil extracted from the leaves is used in aromatherapy to heal acne, cramp, colds, flu, stress, shock, asthma and travel sickness.
  • Monks believed that you could use the herb to treat the fatigue that followed epileptic seizures.
  • Flowers can be used to make tea which if consumed promotes digestion, cures many ailments such as intestine problems, stomach pain and refreshes the mind.
  • Researchers using essential oil of apple mint show promise for treating vaginal candidiasis.
  • Tea also aids in alleviating stomach aches, various ailments, such as intestinal disorders, and an assortment of other health conditions.
  • This herbal tea also aids in breaking down ingested fats and augmenting the level of metabolism.

Steps for Storing apple mint

Follow the following steps to store apple mint.

  • Rinse the leaves in cool water and dry them.
  • Gather the mint branches into a small and loose bunch.
  • Put the leaves in a paper sack that has holes to allow circulation.
  • The leaves should be kept upside with the base of the stems at the top.
  • Tie the base of the stems and close the sack.
  • Place the bag in a dry ventilated area so that the leaves get crispy.
  • Shake the bag later to loosen the leaves from the stem and pour them in an airtight vessel.
  • Keep the airtight vessel in a cool, dark and dry room.

Steps for Growing Apple Mint

If you wish to cultivate apple mint in your farm or backyard, these basic rules will come in handy for that.

  • Apple mint should be grown in a rich, moist and well-drained soil.
  • Always plant the herb in full sun to partial shade.
  • Protect the yard by creating a deep barrier in the soil so that the roots do not spread far.
  • 1 to ½ of space must be kept between the plants.
  • Too much of fertilizers or fresh manure will encourage rust which is harmful for the plant.
  • Frequent cutting or mowing will keep the mints trimmed and accelerate the growth.

Apple mint should be harvested just before the blooming season. The leaves should be picked at midday when the concentrations of essential oils are high. You can pick individual leaves or cut the stems for a large harvest. Remove the flower buds when they develop in late summer. These buds make the flavor bitter.

Culinary uses

  • Leaves can be consumed raw or cooked as a potherb.
  • It is used as a flavoring in salads or cooked foods.
  • Leaves have a similar flavor to spearmint, and are considered to be superior in flavor to that species but are also hairy, which makes them less suitable for garnishing.
  • Herbal tea is made from the leaves.
  • Leaves of this plant can be used to make apple mint jelly.
  • It is used as a flavoring in dishes such as apple mint couscous.
  • Apple Mint can be used in preparing jams, jellies, tea, sauces and desserts.
  • Dried form of apple mint leaves can be used to prepare delicious potpourri.
  • Leaves can also be used in making fruit salads.
  • They can be added to cottage cheese and cream cheese.
  • They are a tacky addition to Mediterranean cuisines, vinaigrettes and sauces.
  • They are also used in making candies and mint chocolates.
  • Certain alcoholic drinks carry a pinch of Apple mint.

Recipes

Apple Mint and Pink Grapefruit Fool

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. tart apples, peeled and sliced
  • 8 oz. pink grapefruit segments
  • 3 tbsp. clear honey
  • 2 tbsp. water
  • 6 large sprigs apple mint, plus more to garnish
  • 2/3 cup double cream
  • 1 ¼ cups custard

Directions

  1. Place the apples, grapefruit, honey, water and apple mint in a pan, cover and simmer for 10 minutes until soft.
  2. Leave in the pan to cool, and then discard the apple mint.
  3. Purée the mixture in a food processor.
  4. Whip the double cream until it forms soft peaks, and fold into the custard, keeping 2 Tbsp. to decorate.
  5. Carefully fold the cream into the apple and grapefruit mixture.
  6. Serve in individual glasses, chilled and decorated with swirls of cream and small sprigs of apple mint.

Apple mint Angel Food Cake

Ingredients

  • 1 cup pastry flour
  • 2 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 5 large egg whites
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • grated rind of half a lime
  • 1 tbsp. finely chopped apple mint

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Line the base of an angel food pan with nonstick baking paper, but do not grease the pan.
  3. Sift the flour and cornstarch with 1 tbsp. of the sugar.
  4. Whisk the egg whites until stiff, then add the rest of the sugar gradually, whisking until the mixture is very thick.
  5. Fold in the flour, grated rind, and mint.
  6. Turn into the pan and bake 35-40 minutes.
  7. Invert the cake, in the pan, onto a wire rack to cool, but do not unmold until cold.
  8. Serve sprinkled with confectioner’s sugar.
  9. The cake should be eaten soon after baking, as it does not keep well.

Apple Mint Pudding

Ingredients

  • 2 cups milk
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp. cornstarch
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 2 egg yolks, beaten
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. apple mint, finely minced
  • sprigs of fresh mint, for garnish

Directions

  1. Combine the milk, sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a medium saucepan.
  2. Stir to blend well.
  3. Cook the mixture over medium-low heat, stirring all the time, until it is thick.
  4. Remove from the heat and cool slightly.
  5. Spoon a small amount of the hot pudding mixture into the beaten egg yolks and stir.
  6. Pour the egg mixture into the pudding mixture, and cook for 2 minutes.
  7. Remove from the heat.
  8. Add the butter, vanilla and mint; stir.
  9. Pour into individual dessert dishes.
  10. Cool, and serve with a sprig of mint.

Strawberry-Apple Mint Pie

Ingredients

  • 1 9-inch baked pie shell
  • 1 cup strawberries, crushed
  • 2 medium apples, chopped
  • 2 tbsp. finely chopped apple mint
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • red coloring
  • additional whole berries

Direction

  1. Wash and hull berries; crush enough to make 1 cup.
  2. Reserve 6 or 8 berries of equal size for garnish and small ones to cover pie bottom.
  3. Pare and chop apples.
  4. In water in a saucepan dissolve sugar and add fruits and mint.
  5. Bring to a boil then cook over low heat 5 minutes.
  6. Test for thickening, and when juice drops thickly off a spoon, remove from heat, stir in coloring and cool for a few minutes.
  7. Arrange a layer of reserved berries over bottom of a pie shell and pour warm mixture over them.
  8. As pie begins to set, place a berry on top for each serving, equidistant from each other and about halfway out from center.
  9. Whipped cream may be piped around berries or decorate the top as desired.

Apple Ale

Ingredients

  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 18 sprigs apple mint
  • 4 lemons
  • 1 quart ginger ale

Directions

  1. Boil sugar and water until sugar is dissolved.
  2. Remove from heat and add 10 sprigs apple mint. Chill.
  3. Add the juice of 4 lemons and strain.
  4. After filling mint julep glasses with crushed ice, add ½ cup apple ale and fill to top with ginger ale.
  5. Add sprig of apple mint and serve.

Other facts

  • An essential oil is obtained from the whole plant.
  • Rats and mice intensely dislike the smell of mint.
  • Plant was therefore used in homes as a strewing herb and has also been spread in granaries to keep the rodents off the grain.
  • In early times, the Greeks used apple mint to clean their banqueting tables and also added it to their baths to rejuvenate their bodies.
  • This flower was used as a floral spectacle was in full bloom in the Olympic Games 2012.
  • The Apple Mint oil is also use for producing Breath fresheners, tooth paste, chewing gums, candies and mint chocolates.
  • The oil is mixed with camper and uses to produce mosquito repels.
  • Mint oil is also used as an environmentally-friendly insecticide for its ability to kill some common pests like wasps, hornets, ants and cockroaches.
  • The herb was strewn across floors to cover the smell of the hard-packed soil.

Precautions

  • Large quantities of some members of this genus, especially when taken in the form of the extracted essential oil, can cause abortions so some caution is advised.
  • Consuming apple mint might be harmful for those who are allergic to menthol or have asthma.
  • Apple mint consumption in excess can lead to several stomach disturbances, muscle ache, cramps, tremors, drowsiness, diarrhea and slow heart rate.
  • Pregnant women should not consume apple mint since it can cause abortion.
  • Apple mint is highly toxic when taken in large doses.

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Apple Mint

Apple mint is a perennial herb plant that grows tall and is sometimes called the woolly mint. It is a member of the mint genus Mentha. This herb is generally grown as a culinary herb or ground cover.

Apple Mint

Scientific Name

The scientific name for Apple Mint is Mentha Suaveolens.

History

This herb was often found growing on the ruins of old monasteries. The monks had used it for curing epileptic fits since it was considered refreshing for the brain. In early times, the Greeks used apple mint to clean their banqueting tables and also added it to their baths to rejuvenate their bodies.

Apple Mint

Description

Here is a complete description of this aromatic herb.

Height: This herb grows tall to a height of 40-100 cm and spread as broad foliage.

Leaves: Bright green in color. They are sessile, large and fuzzy. The shape is oblong to almost ovate. These leaves measure 3 to 5 cm long and 2 to 4 cm broad. They are hairy on the top and beneath and the margins are serrated.

Flowers: Light purple to pinkish in color and appears during mid to late summer. The flowers grow in a tapering spike and the whorls are distant.

Scent: the leaves when brushed give out a sweet scent that seems like a cross between spearmint and apples.

Flavor: They leaves have a slight fruity flavor.

Habitat & Distribution

Apple mint grows well in the temperate regions of the world. They are grown across southern and western Europe and also in the western Mediterranean area.

Apple Mint Photo

Health Benefits

Apple mint leaves have certain medicinal properties.

  • The crushed leaves of this plant are said to eliminate the pain caused by bee sting, wasp stings and other insect bites. They bring about a cooling effect on the affected part of the body.
  • The flowers can be used to make tea which if consumed when promotes digestion, cures many ailments such as intestine problems, stomach pain and refreshes the mind.
  • The Apple mint leaves also help in breaking down fat and accelerating metabolism level.
  • The mint leaves contains nutrients like iron, potassium, calcium, vitamin A and C which replenish our body.
  • The leaves have anti-cancer properties.
  • Powdered leaves can be used to whiten the teeth.
  • The essential oil extracted from the leaves is used in aromatherapy to cure acne, colic, cramp, colds, flu, stress, shock, asthma and travel sickness.

Edible Uses

Apple Mint can be used in preparing jams, jellies, tea, sauces and desserts. The dried form of apple mint leaves can be used to prepare delicious potpourri. The leaves can also be used in making fruit salads. They can be added to cottage cheese and cream cheese. They are a tacky addition to Mediterranean cuisines, vinaigrettes and sauces.

How to Cook?

You can make a summer drink by dipping the leaves in ice water or make a tea by putting them in hot water. They are also used in making candies and mint chocolates.

Few finger-licking recipes that you can prepare in your kitchen are:

  • Apple-mint angel food cake
  • Apple mint pudding
  • Strawberry & apple mint pie.
  • Apple mint lamb

Apple Mint Picture

How to Store?

Follow the following steps to store apple mint.

  • Rinse the leaves in cool water and dry them.
  • Gather the mint branches into a small and loose bunch.
  • Put the leaves in a paper sack that has holes to allow circulation.
  • The leaves should be kept upside with the base of the stems at the top.
  • Tie the base of the stems and close the sack.
  • Place the bag in a dry ventilated area so that the leaves get crispy.
  • Shake the bag later to loosen the leaves from the stem and pour them in an airtight vessel.
  • Keep the airtight vessel in a cool, dark and dry room.

Where to Buy?

Fresh apple mint can be purchased from supermarkets. Dry apple mint leaves can be bought from online tea retailers. Various sites offer these leaves at exciting rates.

How to Grow?

If you wish to cultivate apple mint in your farm or backyard, these basic rules will come in handy for that.

  • Apple mint should be grown in a rich, moist and well drained soil.
  • Always plant the herb in full sun to partial shade.
  • Protect the yard by creating a deep barrier in the soil so that the roots do not spread far.
  • 1 to ½ of space must be kept between the plants.
  • Too much of fertilizers or fresh manure will encourage rust which is harmful for the plant.
  • Frequent cutting or mowing will keep the mints trimmed and accelerate the growth.

Apple mint should be harvested just before the blooming season. The leaves should be picked at midday when the concentrations of essential oils are high. You can pick individual leaves or cut the stems for a large harvest. Remove the flower buds when they develop in late summer. These buds make the flavor bitter.

Side Effects

Apple mint might bring about certain side effects.

  • Consuming apple mint might be harmful for those who are allergic to menthol or have asthma.
  • Apple mint consumption in excess can lead to muscle ache, cramps, tremors, drowsiness, diarrhea and slow heart rate.

During Pregnancy

Pregnant women should not consume apple mint since it can cause abortion. Apple mint is highly toxic when taken in large doses.

Pictures

Here is a picture of this strong and hardy herb.

Apple Mint Image

Reference:

Plants and trees have to be cultivated properly with utmost love using organic manures and chemicals without spoiling the farmland and ecological balance. There are hundreds of naturally derived organic fertilizers manures that will improve the soil textures like animal excreta, human excreta and urine. Start using the organic fertilizers and save the cultivated lands. This topic will deal with a plant named Apple mint which is an upright herbaceous perennial plant. This plant comes under the Lamiaceae. The botanical name of this plant is Mentha suaveolens. The other common names of this plant are pineapple mint, woolly mint or round-leafed mint.

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This aromatic plant that is classified under mint genus mentha ranges through the southern and western Europe and the western Mediterranean region. This mint plant is commonly grown as an edible herb or for ground cover. This fragrant rich plant grows to a height of 100 cm and forms a colonial colony by spreading lavishly. The oblong hairy leaves grow up to 3 to 5 cm long and 2 to 4 cm broad. The white or pinkish flower which develops in terminal spikes grows up to 9 cm long. The leaves are aromatic with a minty flavor. Apple mint is native to southern and western Europe and is naturalized in central and northern parts of Europe. This aroma rich plant is found in dame and wet places.

Growth

Apple Mint

This plant grows rapidly and needs continuous supervision to check growth. It will become obnoxious if it is not contained. This plant grows well in most of the soils so long as the soil is not too dry. It also grows in heavy clay soils and partial shades. It grows well along with cabbages and tomatoes. The aromatic leaves acts as a repellent. Germination is very quick.

Uses Of Apple Mint

  • The content of the medicinal oils vary from plant to plant depending the nature of the plant.
  • This plant has antiseptic properties, improves digestion, reduce fever, headaches, digestive disorders and other minor ailments.
  • Rodents dislike the fragrance and run away from this plant. Since apple mint has a very rich fragrance it is used in ice creams.
  • Since the plant and its flowers are attractive to look it is classified under ornamental plant category.
  • The leaves can be used to make jelly and mint tea.
  • It is also used as an ingredient in salads and soups. Spanish call this plant as hierbabuena.
  • This plant has rich nutrients and minerals and used in medicines for thousands of years in many parts of the world which includes Africa, Europe, Asia and the Americas.
  • The jelly or sauce is served alongside meat items such as lamb, tzaziki and tabbouleh.
  • The leaves are also used in iced tea and it cannot be used as garnish since it has hairy particles in it.
  • This flower was used as a floral spectacle was in full bloom in the Olympic Games 2012.

Caution

Pregnant women should not use these leaves.If they take it will lead to abortion.

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How to Identify Mint Plants

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Take a sniff! If a plant’s green leaves have a sharp, minty smell, the odds are that it’s a member of the large mint family. Although spearmint and peppermint are the most popular choices for American gardens, other varieties have fascinating flavors, ranging from chocolate to lavender. Some are purely ornamental.

One trait that’s common to all mint species: They aren’t shy or retiring. Left to its own devices, mint will take over a garden bed–and sometimes the entire backyard. Save yourself from the invasion by transplanting mint into containers. But first you have to identify the mint plants.

Spearmint and Peppermint

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Spearmint (Mentha spicata)and peppermint (Mentha × piperita) are the mint varieties most likely to appear in your backyard. Both have fuzzy leaves with jaggedly toothed edges that smell strongly minty when crushed. Both these mints also bear pale lilac flowers. To distinguish between them, you’ll have to take a nibble. A strong menthol aftertaste means peppermint, while a sweet, light flavor means spearmint. Use young spearmint leaves in cooking, peppermint leaves for tea and other drinks.
The climate in which the mint is growing can also help you identify it. If you live in a cool climate, your mint is likely peppermint. These plants are hardy down to U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zone 3. Spearmint does better with heat and can even thrive in USDA hardiness zone 11.

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If the mint growing in your backyard has soft, rounded leaves, it might be apple mint (Mentha suaveolens). This plant is also called woolly mint because its stems and leaves are covered with fine, soft hairs. Flower spears are white or pale pink. Less minty than peppermint or spearmint, apple mint tastes fruity. The leaves have a mild, sweet flavor that makes apple mint perfect with salads or fresh fruit.

Lavender Mint

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Lavender mint (Mentha x piperita ‘Lavender’) can grow to 3 feet tall and wide, with large, eye-catching flowers. The lilac blossoms are showy enough to make the plant a garden ornamental, and butterflies love them too. The gray-green leaves surprise you with purple undersides. They smell intensely of lavender, and are often used in potpourris and cooking. If you are using the leaves to flavor food, pick them before the mint plant flowers for best results. Plant lavender mint in USDA hardiness zones 5 through 9.

Chocolate Mint

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Here’s a chocolate that won’t pack on the pounds. Chocolate mint plants (Mentha x piperita ‘Chocolate’) have handsome dark-green leaves that carry a powerful fragrance reminiscent of chocolate liqueur. This fast-growing mint shoots up to 2 feet tall and spreads rapidly enough to be a useful ground cover. Chocolate mint leaves are long and lance-shaped, providing a lovely contrast to the lavender flowers that appear in summer. This mint thrives in USDA hardiness zones 5 through 9.

Ornamental Corsican Mint

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Some mints are not intended to be used for cooking. Instead, you can use ornamental mints to fill in empty sections of a garden with texture and bright foliage. One of these is Corsican mint (Mentha requienii), a lovely, short ground cover that doesn’t mind being walked on. It will delight you with its delicate leaves, subtle minty aroma and bright color. It grows happily in USDA hardiness zones 6 through 9.

Not all of us have a green thumb, but some plants are so ubiquitous that you can’t help but encounter them in everyday life. Mint is one of those plants. It’s probably in your toothpaste, or in a pot nearby as you walk down the street. There are a lot of reasons you might want to get to know this plant. Even if you’re a person who can’t tell the difference between a dandelion and daisy, you can still learn about mint plant uses – it’ll be sure to benefit you in one way or another.

Mint Plant Botany

Also known as Mentha, mint is of the Lamiaceae family. Somewhere between thirteen and eighteen species of mint exist, including bergamot mint, spearmint, pennyroyal, and peppermint. Part of what makes these species so hard to categorize is that there is a fair amount of natural hybridization. The species is distributed in regions across Africa, Asia, Europe, Australia, and North America. Mint is an aromatic, perennial herb. Most species grow best in wet, damp environments. The leaves grow in opposite pairs. Often, their edges are serrated or fuzzy. There is variety in coloring. Often, the best way to know if you are looking at a mint plant is to smell it. Its flowers range from white to purple.

As this plant grows in your garden, you can harvest the leaves at any time. Mint can make a good companion plant if kept under control.

Mint Taste and Digestion

Traditionally, people used mint to treat upset stomachs and chest pain. Today it is used to help alleviate nausea post-surgery. It is also used in aromatherapy as a smell that facilitates relaxation and cleanliness. With such an aromatic, fresh taste, the leaves and oil are also used to improve taste in culinary dishes, mouthwash, and toothpaste. It is a popular addition to lamb dishes in the middle east. It is popularly paired with chocolate as a treat.

For a refreshing summer salad, try chopping up some watermelon and cucumber into a bowl. Take fresh sprigs of mint and finely cut and mix them into the bowl.

Wondering why toothpaste is so often mint flavored? Menthol, which is derived from mint, is able to override the bitter tastes of the chemicals used to clean our teeth. Mint does help to fight germs and over time, society has come to associate the smell of mint with a clean mouth.

Some people do have allergies to mint, so be sure to ask when offering to share your mint-infused culinary creations with a friend.

A Healthy Garden

Mint is a great addition to the garden. It attracts beneficial pollinators like bees, wasps, hoverflies, and tachinid flies. The smell of this plant comes in handy once again in that its pungent presence can help repel house flies, squash bugs, mosquitoes, and mice. You can take clippings from the garden and place them in vases around your abode for a refreshing, bug-repelling effect.

Mint grows well in the shade, so it can be a good option if you need to prioritize the sunny spots of your yard, porch or window for more needy herbs and veggies. It can provide beneficial protection to other plants as well. Try planting your mint near squash, bell peppers, peas, and beets. Mint can help to repel bugs and it is also regarded as improving the flavor of the food as it grows.

An important note: if you are growing mint in your garden, strongly consider planting it in a container. Mint will likely take over any area where it grows. Many people consider it to be invasive. However, you plan to cultivate it, know that it will spread indefinitely.

Skin Care

Mint also has a cooling, anti-inflammatory effect. On a hot summer day, it can provide the sweet relief you need to continue to function well. You can make a paste of the leaves to ease burnt skin. You can use it to treat bug bites. It has strong antibacterial properties and can help to treat acne in some cases.

If you are not allergic to mint, try taking a handful of (washed) mint leaves, a slice of a cucumber and a half tablespoon of honey. Blend the ingredients together and then apply the paste to your face – and voila! You’ve got a fresh face mask. Leave it on for twenty minutes before rinsing it off with cool water. You can do this every week and reap the benefits of this helpful herb.

As you familiarize with mint plant uses, you can be creative with how you incorporate it into your daily routines in the kitchen and bathroom as well as how it can best benefit your gardening endeavors. Have you had success with growing mint in the past? What did you end up using it for? Any tips for how best to harvest it? We’d love to hear in the comments below.

Here a Mint, There a Mint

Everywhere a mint mint! With apologies to Old MacDonald, let’s dig a little deeper into the invasive tactics of a delightful herb named Mentha.

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Did you ever have a friend who had a few annoying habits but she was the first person you called when you had a problem? The same is often true of pets. You have a dog, the greatest dog on the planet, but occasionally she nibbles your favorite shoe, eats your garden hat, or gnaws the check you intended to cash. Same goes for plants; we have a love/hate relationship with some of them. Mint is one of those plants.

A few decades ago when I moved to Western Kentucky from the Appalachian mountains, my grandmother gave me some of her seeds: white half runners, early peas, heirloom tomatoes, things like that. She also gave me a few plants, and among them were irises, daylilies, a shrub, a tiny rooted redbud tree, and two little sprigs of rooted mint. All these things, she said, were necessary to a granddaughter who had a new home. She reminded me to save seeds every year, she reminded me to water, and she reminded me to keep the mint in large pots that were sunk into the ground. I saved the seeds, I watered profusely, but I didn’t have a large pot that I wanted to sink into the ground, so I planted the two little mints, one spearmint and one peppermint, in a small spot in the little garden at the east end of my house. Wrong. Oh. So. Wrong! Every morning I could tell that the mint had traveled westward another few inches, following the sun, and was gaining ground quickly.

Field Mint (Mentha canadensis)
Posted by SongofJoy
Field Mint (Mentha canadensis)
Posted by SongofJoy
Field Mint (Mentha canadensis)
Posted by SongofJoy

There are many varieties of Mentha, but I was told only that my plants were spearmint and peppermint. Both of them had always been used by my family in the same way, as medicine and as flavor for foods. Both spearmint and peppermint make a delicious tea. Fresh or dried leaves from either flavor will liven up a salad. Fresh sprigs of mint not only look pretty in your favorite crystal water goblet, but if you add a slice of lemon, you’ve added the distinct flavor of summer to your drink.

As for your health, mint has been used for centuries to calm an upset tummy, to ease troubled breathing, and to freshen breath. Swipe a slightly crushed mint leaf across your teeth after brushing to help with whitening. It works every time.

Mints in my garden

Long long ago in a land far away, dried mint leaves were stuffed into straw mattresses and into feather pillows to encourage sweet dreams (while also ridding them of bed bugs). Those same dried mint leaves were often strewn on the floor and left laying for a while, simply to spread the scent throughout a lady’s bedchamber. At the same time, you could find dried mint leaves in food cabinets to deter pests. I often combine it with rosemary in my kitchen cabinets and I find it works about as well as anything else.

So, along with giving me the daylilies and irises and redbuds and such, my grandmother sent me to my new home with mint. And as I was leaving she reminded me: “Now don’t forget the story!” I don’t think I ever forgot a story that was ever told to me and I certainly wouldn’t forget a love story. I’ll share it with you.

Remember Pluto? No, not the cartoon talking dog. Pluto was a character in Greek mythology. Of course, when it was told to me it was just a magical story. Greek mythology never did make its way up the holler in the Southern Appalachians where I grew up, except as a magical story. So as the magical story goes, Pluto, the Greek character, had a girlfriend named Menthe and his wife, Persephone, did not like it one bit. Persephone, being a bit put out and acting in anger that only a jealous and scorned wife would know, turned Menthe into a ground crawling plant. There’s nothing worse than a ground crawler, spending the rest of her life with her nose in the dirt. Now Pluto, even though powerful (remember, he hangs out in the heavens now), couldn’t change Persephone’s curse, but he did bestow upon Menthe the ability to reach upward and to sweeten the air whenever her leaves were caressed. I’m sure Persephone never let Pluto forget what he had done, but she couldn’t undo his powers either. That was obviously not a marriage made in heaven. So Menthe is now spending forever on the ground, but reaching upward toward Pluto in heaven, and spreading her scent whenever we touch her. What a great story!

Anyway, I am a sucker for love stories, so of course I remembered it. What I forgot was the lesson it taught: Mentha grows just about anywhere and everywhere and quickly! I planted those two little rooted sprigs in a corner when I got to my new home. And they loved it. They loved it so much that they rooted around until they filled in every space, all along the east wall, along the south wall, and the west wall, and now they are making their way to the northern front. I’ve managed to stop them at the driveway and at the magnolia on the opposite northern corner. Frankly I could have mint juleps any time of the year and enough to serve to all of you, not only during the Kentucky Derby Week in May. Problem is, all the root runners have formed an under-the-soil-surface root mat that surrounds three sides of my house. I’m kept pretty busy just digging and pulling up roots, but it sure smells good while I dig and pull, thanks to the magical powers of Pluto!

Like the rest of its family, mint has square hollow stems and my spearmint has slightly fuzzy leaves. I suspect they’ve also cross pollinated, but I can usually tell the difference by looking at the leaves. Peppermint leaves are glossy and hairless. Good thing I can tell the difference because I like spearmint best for my mint juleps. Some mints grow low to the ground, but I probably have forms of what’s known as mountain mint or field mint, and if I don’t keep it cut back and in some sort of bush form, it can grow more than three feet tall. Cutting it back keeps it bushier, and although the blooms are nice in appearance, I rarely let it bloom because the leaves have a bitter flavor when the plant forms blooms. By the way, field mint is native to the US. Some say that field mint doesn’t come in different flavors, but I definitely have spearmint and peppermint, each with that distinctive leaf, each growing well over 3 feet, one with very pale lavender blooms and the other with white spikes. They also both came from my grandmother’s long ago garden in the mountains. Somewhere along the way, there must have been some cross pollination with field mint.

Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare)
Posted by Sharon
Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare)
Posted by bonitin

I swear by this little secret and not many know this, but I’ll share it with you: In the corner where I have mint and tansy planted together, there is a rose nearby. That rose has never ever seen a Japanese beetle. Never! They won’t come near it, nor will any other pest, because the mint and tansy together form a perfect bug barrier for the roses. Bunnies don’t like it much either, but I suspect it’s the tansy they don’t like. Works against mosquitoes as well and I’ve decided it’s the combination of the two scents working together that deters a lot of things.

However, even with this plus, don’t plant your mint directly into your gardens. Just don’t. It will spread to the ends of the earth and back, with you down on your hands and knees chasing it, just as Menthe did, until Pluto finally gave her the ability to grow upright. Just plant it in pots so that the roots are contained, and then you will love it because it truly is a good plant to have around.

Place the pots around your vegetable garden and among your roses and add a sprig of tansy to the pots. It won’t be long before you might notice a difference in your pest population. When May rolls around, when the horses in Kentucky are Running for the Roses, you can sit back and sip a Mint Julep with me.

~*~

Please scroll over the images ‘Mints in my garden’ for noted characteristics.

White Peppermint
Botanical Name: Mentha piperita officinalis

White Peppermint is an evergreen perennial growing from 30-90 cm high, with a spreading habit. It has green leaves that end in a point and have serrated edges. The leaves are quite large at 4-9cm long and 1.5-4cm wide. The leaves a stems may be slightly fuzzy. The purple flowers are held in whorls and appear in summer. White Peppermint is very similar to Peppermint, however it lacks the red flush sometimes appearing on leaves and the red stems. Overall, the White Peppermint is a lighter shade of green and it has a milder taste than Peppermint.

Peppermint is native to Europe and was first described in 1753 by Linnaeus and thought to be a new species. However, it was later determined to be a hybrid from parents Mentha aquatica (Watermint) and Mentha spicata (Spearmint). It is still sometimes found in the wild near the parent plants. The preferred native habitat is moist soils near streams and natural drainage lines. White Peppermint is fast growing and is one of the main cultivated varieties of Peppermint.

Peppermint has one of the longest histories for use as a culinary and medicinal herb. It was also one of the earliest used herbs for commercial flavouring of confectionary, toothpaste, tea, ice cream and many other household products. Menthol, the active constituent in Peppermint, activates cold sensitive receptors on the skin and mucosal tissues creating the cooling sensation.

Please see Peppermint for further information.

Mint General

There are many Mint varieties known to herb gardeners and lovers of good cuisine, all varying slightly in flavour, aroma and appearance. They are categorized in the genus ‘Mentha’, which has up to 18 species, within the Lamiaceae family of plants. The Lamiaceae family is known as the mint family. However, the largest group of plants in the mint family is actually the delightful Salvias with their brilliantly coloured blooms. Many other commonly known herbs are also found in this family, including basil, sage, thyme and even lavender. One characteristic of this plant family is that they all yield essential oils, giving each plant its unique characteristics and even potential for medicinal use. Even the Scutellaria genus, with the unusually named Baikal Skullcap is found within this family.

The mints consist of mostly spreading and low growing perennial plants. The height range is from 10 cm to 1 meter, so not all are at ground level. Mint plants send out runners, or stolons, to help them spread by developing roots and shoots at the nodes. This allows plants to cover up to 1 meter in stem growth, in good conditions. They are all fast growing plants and due to the spreading nature, one plant is often sufficient for most gardeners. Some mints can be invasive and it is recommended that containers or in ground barriers be used. Mints can suffer from some pests like snails and aphids and may be affected by mint rust.Rust Free Mint may also be a useful addition to the garden in addition to the many other varieties.

Most mint plants have square stems, with leaves held in opposite pairs. They are often downy with a serrated margin, with a variable leaf shape and colours ranging from green to purple. The flowers are usually white to purple and present in false whorls or verticillaster or false whorl. The corolla is usually two lipped and has 4 lobes, with the upper lobe usually the largest.

Mint plants come from across the globe and will grow in most climates, including a wide range of regions across Australia. Some are annual varieties, but in cool climate zones perennial mints may best be treated as annuals and replaced each year. Generally they have high water requirements and prefer rich soils. Mint is grown commercially in Tasmania due to the ideal conditions of long summer days in high altitudes, where temperatures average 25C during the day to 15C at night. Ideal conditions usually require full sun, but part shade may be necessary as temperatures increase in warm summer regions.

Most mints have a history of traditional medicinal or herbal use for fevers, headaches and minor ailments. These plants are often used as a digestive aid in the form or herbal tea. The essential oil is also antiseptic and may be toxic in very high doses. They should be avoided by pregnant women and must not be given, or placed next to the face of babies and young children, due to the potential for breathing difficulties associated with menthol.

Mint hybridizes very easily, so there are many varieties available to suit any garden. In fact, if you have mixed plants some may hybridize in your own garden. The most popular choices are Spearmint, Peppermint and Applemint. However, many varieties in our collection, such as Ginger Mint, Eau de Cologne, Chocolate Mint and many others are also becoming well known.

Growing Conditions

Providing a moist garden position, with regular water during dry periods will ensure success. Like most mints, this variety will grow in part shade or full sun. Too much shade may result in a leggy plant as it reaches for the sun and a reduction in the essential oil content and flavour. But, Peppermint will grow almost anywhere and under most conditions. It is not frost tender. However, it has been listed as invasive in many regions including the USA, New Zealand and Australia. If spreading or garden escape might be a concern then container planting or using a garden barrier to stop roots spreading is advised. Propagation may be by cuttings or division since the roots will grow quickly and allow the plant to spread.

Culinary Uses

White Peppermint has similar culinary uses to Peppermint and other mint varieties. It may be used added to drinks, salads, desserts and cooked dishes.

Medicinal Uses

White Peppermint contains menthol and is similar to Peppermint, which has been used medicinally for centuries. Peppermint is commonly used for stomach complaints and as a digestive aid, due to its carminative properties. Research has indicated value in treating Irritable Bowel Syndrome with the active constituents found in Peppermint. Peppermint is also reputed to help focus and concentration and is the subject of significant medical research in an number of areas. Peppermint oil has not been approved for use in pregnancy and essential oils containing menthol should not be used near the face or hands of infants or toddlers.

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