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Mentha
Mentha longifolia
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Lamiales
Family: Lamiaceae
Genus: Mentha
L.
Species

See text

Mentha (mint) is a genus of about 25 species (and many hundreds of varieties[1]) of flowering plants in the family Lamiaceae (Mint Family). Species within Mentha have a subcosmopolitan distribution across Europe, Africa, Asia,[2] Australia, and North America. Several mint hybrids commonly occur.

Mints are aromatic, almost exclusively perennial, rarely annual, herbs. They have wide-spreading underground rhizomes and erect, square [3], branched stems. The leaves are arranged in opposite pairs, from simple oblong to lanceolate, often downy, and with a serrated margin. Leaf colors range from dark green and gray-green to purple, blue, and sometimes pale yellow.[2] 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 considered invasive.[4]

Contents

Species

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 As with all classifications of plants, this list can go out of date at a moment's notice.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 cultivars and varieties (where available), are listed under the species.

Selected hybrids

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 As with all classifications of plants, this list can go out of date at a moment's notice.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 × dalmatica (M. arvensis × M. longifolia)
  • Mentha × dumetorum (M. aquatica × M. longifolia)
  • Mentha × gracilis - Ginger Mint
  • Mentha × maximilianea (M. aquatica × M. suaveolens)
  • Mentha × piperitaPeppermint
  • Mentha × rotundifolia (M. longifolia × M. suaveolens) - False Apple-mint
  • Mentha × smithiana (M. aquatica × M. arvensis × M. spicata) - Red Raripila Mint
  • Mentha × verticillata (M. aquatica × M. arvensis)
  • 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

Cultivation

Mentha x gracilis and M. rotundifolia. The steel ring is to control the spread of the plant.

All mints prefer, and thrive in, cool, moist spots in partial shade.[5] 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.[5]

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[5]; and some mint varieties are sterile. It is more effective to take and plant cuttings from the runners of healthy mints.

The most common and popular mints for cultivation are peppermint (Mentha × piperita), spearmint (Mentha spicata), and (more recently) apple mint (Mentha suaveolens).

Mints are supposed to make good companion plants, repelling pest insects and attracting beneficial ones. Mints are susceptible to whitefly and aphids.

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.[6]

Uses

Culinary

A jar of mint jelly. Mint jelly is a traditional condiment served with lamb dishes.
Mint tea.

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 tea, a popular tea in northern African and Arab countries.

Alcoholic drinks sometimes feature mint for flavor or garnish, such as the Mint Julep and the Mojito. Crème de menthe is a mint-flavored liqueur used in drinks such as the grasshopper.

Mint essential oil and menthol are extensively used as flavorings in breath fresheners, drinks, antiseptic mouth rinses, toothpaste, chewing gum, desserts, and candies; see mint (candy) and mint chocolate. The substances that give the mints their characteristic aromas and flavors are menthol (the main aroma of Peppermint and Japanese Peppermint) and pulegone (in Pennyroyal and Corsican Mint). The compound primarily responsible for the aroma and flavor of spearmint is R-carvone.

Methyl salicylate, 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 chest pains, 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.

Menthol from mint essential oil (40-90%) is an ingredient of many cosmetics and some perfumes. 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 throat.

The strong, sharp flavor and scent of mint is sometimes used as a mild decongestant 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".

Insecticides

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.

Diseases

Origin and usage of the word mint

An example of Mint leaves

Mint descends from the Latin word mentha, which is rooted in the Greek word minthe, mentioned in Greek mythology as Minthe, a nymph who was transformed into a mint plant. The word itself probably derives from a now extinct pre-Greek language (see Pre-Greek substrate).[7]

Mint leaves, without a qualifier like peppermint or apple mint, generally refers to spearmint leaves.

In Central and South America, mint is known as hierbabuena (literally, "good herb"). In Lusophone countries, especially in Brazil, mint species are popularly known as Hortelã. In many Indo-Aryan languages, it is called Pudīna.

The taxonomic family Lamiaceae is known as the mint family. It includes many other aromatic herbs, including most of the more common cooking herbs, including basil, rosemary, sage, oregano, and catnip.

As an English colloquial term, any small mint-flavored confectionery item can be called a mint.[1]

In common usage, several other plants with fragrant leaves may be erroneously called a mint. Vietnamese Mint, commonly used in Southeast Asian cuisine, is not a member of the mint family (taxonomic family Lamiaceae).

Notes

  1. ^ a b Davidson, Alan (1999). The Oxford Companion to Food. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 508. ISBN 0-19-211579-0. 
  2. ^ a b Brickell, Christopher; Zuk, Judith D. (1997). The American Horticultural Society: A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants. New York, NY, USA: DK Publishing, Inc.. pp. 668. ISBN 0-7894-1943-2. 
  3. ^ Rose, Francis (1981). The Wild Flower Key. Frederick Warne & Co. pp. 310. ISBN 0-7232-2419-6. 
  4. ^ Brickell, Christopher; Trevor Cole (2002). The American Horticultural Society: Encyclopedia of Plants & Flowers. New York, NY, USA: DK Publishing, Inc.. pp. 605. ISBN 0-7894-8993-7. 
  5. ^ a b c Bradley, Fern (1992). Rodale's All-new Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening. Emmaus, Pennsylvania, USA: Rodale Press. pp. 390. ISBN 0-87857-999-0. 
  6. ^ Ortiz, Elisabeth (1992). The Encyclopedia of Herbs, Spices & Flavorings. London: Dorling Kindersley. pp. 36–37. ISBN 1-56458-065-2. 
  7. ^ Quattrocchi, Umberto (1947-). CRC World dictionary of plant names: Common names, Scientific Names, Eponyms, Sonyonyms, and Etymology. III M-Q. CRC Press. pp. 1658. 

External links


Wiktionary

Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

Translingual

Proper noun

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Wikipedia

Mentha

  1. (taxonomy) A taxonomic genus within the tribe Mentheaemints.

Hyponyms

  • Mentha aquaticawater mint, marsh mint
  • Mentha arvensis – corn mint, wild mint, Japanese peppermint, field mint
  • Mentha asiatica – Asian mint
  • Mentha australis – Australian mint
  • Mentha canadensis
  • Mentha cervina – Hart's pennyroyal
  • Mentha citrata – bergamot mint
  • Mentha crispata – wrinkled-leaf mint
  • Mentha cunninghamia
  • Mentha dahurica – Dahurian thyme
  • Mentha diemenica – slender mint
  • Mentha gattefossei
  • Mentha grandiflora
  • Mentha haplocalyx
  • Mentha japonica
  • Mentha kopetdaghensis
  • Mentha laxiflora – forest mint
  • Mentha longifolia – horse mint
  • Mentha nemorosa – large apple mint, foxtail mint, hairy mint, woolly mint, Cuban mint
  • Mentha pulegiumpennyroyal
  • Mentha requienii – Corsican mint
  • Mentha sachalinensis – garden mint
  • Mentha satureioides – native pennyroyal
  • Mentha spicataspearmint, curly mint
  • Mentha suaveolens – apple mint, pineapple mint
  • Mentha vagans – gray mint

Wikispecies

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From Wikispecies

Taxonavigation

Classification System: APG II (down to family level)

Main Page
Cladus: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Cladus: Angiospermae
Cladus: Eudicots
Cladus: core eudicots
Cladus: Asterids
Cladus: Euasterids I
Ordo: Lamiales
Familia: Lamiaceae
Subfamilia: Nepetoideae
Tribus: Mentheae
Genus: Mentha
Species: M. aquatica - M. arvensis - M. asiatica - M. australis - M. canadensis - M. cervina - M. cunninghamii - M. dahurica - M. x dalmatica - M. diemenica - M. x dumetorum - M. gattefossei - M. x gracilis - M. grandiflora - M. haplocalyx - M. japonica - M. kopetdaghensis - M. laxiflora - M. longifolia - M. x maximilianea - M. micrantha - M. muelleriana - M. ×piperita - M. pulegium - M. requienii - M. x rotundifolia - M. satureioides - M. x smithiana - M. spicata - M. suaveolens - M. x verticillata - M. villosa

Name

Mentha L.

Vernacular names

English: Mint
Հայերեն: Անանուխ, դաղձ, նանա
Polski: Mięta
Português: Hortelã
Română: Mentă
Русский: Мята
Türkçe: Nane
中文: 薄荷







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