) is a
of about 25 species
(and many hundreds of varieties
) of flowering plants
in the family Lamiaceae
(Mint Family). Species within Mentha have a subcosmopolitan
. Several mint hybrid
Mints are aromatic, almost exclusively perennial
, rarely annual
. They have
wide-spreading underground rhizomes
erect, square , branched stems. The leaves
arranged in opposite pairs, from simple oblong
often downy, and with a serrated margin. Leaf colors range from
dark green and gray-green to purple, blue, and sometimes pale
yellow. The flowers
are produced in clusters
('verticils') on an erect spike, white to purple, the corolla
two-lipped with four subequal lobes, the upper lobe usually the
largest. The fruit
is a small, dry capsule
containing one to four seeds
While the species that make up the Mentha genus are widely
distributed and can be found in many environments, most Mentha grow
best in wet environments and moist soils. Mints will grow
10–120 cm tall and can spread over an indeterminate sized
area. Due to their tendency to spread unchecked, mints are
This covers a selection of what are considered to be pure species
of mints. As with all classifications of plants, this list can go
out of date at a moment's notice. Listed here are accepted species
names and common names (where available). Synonyms, along with
and varieties (where available),
are listed under the species.
The mint family has a large grouping of recognized hybrids. As with
all classifications of plants, this list can go out of date at a
moment's notice. Synonyms, along with cultivars and varieties where
available, are included within the specific species.
- Mentha ×
gracilis - Ginger Mint
- Mentha ×
piperita – Peppermint
- Mentha × rotundifolia (M. longifolia × M.
suaveolens) - False Apple-mint
- Mentha × smithiana (M. aquatica × M.
arvensis × M. spicata) - Red Raripila Mint
- Mentha × villosa (M. spicata × M.
suaveolens) - Also called Mentha nemorosa, large
apple mint, foxtail mint, hairy mint, woolly mint, Cuban mint,
mojito mint, and is known as Yerba Buena in Cuba.
- Mentha × villosonervata (M. longifolia ×
M. spicata) - Sharp-toothed Mint
Mentha x gracilis and M.
The steel ring is to control the spread of the plant.
All mints prefer, and thrive in, cool, moist spots in partial
shade. In general, mints tolerate a wide range of conditions, and
can also be grown in full sun.
They are fast growing, extending their reach along surfaces through
a network of runners
. Due to their speedy
growth, one plant of each desired mint, along with a little care,
will provide more than enough mint for home use. Some mint species
are more invasive
than others. Even
with the less invasive mints, care should be taken when mixing any
mint with any other plants, lest the mint take over. To control
mints in an open environment, mints should be planted in deep,
bottomless containers sunk in the ground, or planted above ground
in tubs and barrels.
Some mints can be propagated by seed. Growth from seed can be an
unreliable method for raising mint for two reasons: mint seeds are
highly variable - one might not end up with what one presupposed
was planted; and some mint varieties are sterile. It is more
effective to take and plant cuttings from the runners of healthy
The most common and popular mints for cultivation are peppermint
(Mentha × piperita
), and (more
recently) apple mint
Mints are supposed to make good companion plants
, repelling pest insects and
attracting beneficial ones. Mints are susceptible to whitefly
Harvesting of mint leaves can be done at anytime. Fresh mint leaves
should be used immediately or stored up to a couple of days in
plastic bags within a refrigerator. Optionally, mint can be frozen
in ice cube trays. Dried mint leaves should be stored in an
airtight container placed in a cool, dark, dry area.
A jar of mint jelly.
Mint jelly is a traditional condiment served with lamb
The leaf, fresh or dried, is the culinary source of mint. Fresh
mint is usually preferred over dried mint when storage of the mint
is not a problem. The leaves have a pleasant warm, fresh, aromatic,
sweet flavor with a cool aftertaste. Mint leaves are used in teas,
beverages, jellies, syrups, candies, and ice creams. In Middle
Eastern cuisine, mint is used on lamb dishes. In British cuisine,
mint sauce is popular with lamb.
Mint is a necessary ingredient in Touareg
, a popular tea in northern African and Arab
Alcoholic drinks sometimes feature mint for flavor or garnish, such
as the Mint Julep
and the Mojito
. Crème de
is a mint-flavored liqueur
in drinks such as the grasshopper
Mint essential oil
are extensively used as flavorings in breath
fresheners, drinks, antiseptic
, chewing gum
; see mint
. The substances that give the mints their
characteristic aromas and flavors are menthol (the main aroma of
and Japanese Peppermint
and Corsican Mint
). The compound
primarily responsible for the aroma and flavor of spearmint is
, commonly called
"oil of wintergreen", is often used as a mint flavoring for foods
and candies due to its mint-like flavor.
Mints are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera
species including Buff Ermine
Medicinal and cosmetic
Mint was originally used as a medicinal herb to treat stomach ache
, and it is commonly used in the form of tea as a home remedy
to help alleviate stomach pain.
During the Middle Ages
, powdered mint
leaves were used to whiten teeth
. Mint tea is
a strong diuretic
. Mint also aids
digestion, in a way that it breaks down the fats. In recent years,
it has been often recommended for treating obesity.
from mint essential oil (40-90%) is
an ingredient of many cosmetics
. Menthol and mint essential oil are
also much used in medicine as a component of many drugs, and are
very popular in aromatherapy
. Mint is
also used in some shampoo products.
A common use is as an antipruritic
especially in insect bite treatments (often along with camphor
Menthol is also used in cigarettes as an additive, because it
blocks out the bitter taste of tobacco and soothes the
The strong, sharp flavor and scent of mint is sometimes used as a
for illnesses such as
the common cold
In Rome, Pliny
recommended that a
wreath of mint was a good thing for students to wear since it was
thought to "exhilarate their minds".
Mint leaves are often used by many campers to repel mosquitoes
. It is also said that extracts from mint
leaves have a particular mosquito-killing capability. Mint plants
planted near doorways help drive ants away.
Mint oil is also used as an environmentally-friendly insecticide
for its ability to kill some common
pests like wasps, hornets, ants and cockroaches.
Origin and usage of the word mint
An example of Mint leaves
Mint descends from the Latin
, which is rooted in the Greek
, mentioned in
, a nymph who was transformed into a mint
plant. The word itself probably derives from a now extinct
pre-Greek language (see Pre-Greek
Mint leaves, without a qualifier like peppermint
, generally refers to spearmint
and South America
, mint is known as hierbabuena
(literally, "good herb").
Lusophone countries, especially in
Brazil, mint species are popularly known as Hortelã.
In many Indo-Aryan languages
, it is called
The taxonomic family Lamiaceae is known as the mint
. It includes many other aromatic herbs, including most
of the more common cooking herbs, including basil
As an English colloquial term, any small mint-flavored
confectionery item can be called a mint
In common usage, several other plants with fragrant leaves may be
erroneously called a mint. Vietnamese Mint
, commonly used in
cuisine, is not a
member of the mint family