|Mentha subsp. var.||Mint|
Mentha (mint) is a genus of about 25 species (and many hundreds of varieties) of flowering plants in the family Lamiaceae (Mint Family). Species within Mentha have a wide distribution around the world due to its usefulness. Several mint hybrids commonly occur.
Mints are aromatic, almost all perennial, rarely annual, herbs. They have wide-spreading underground rhizomes (roots) and erect, 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. 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, many 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 the tendency to spread unchecked, mints are considered invasive.
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 As with all classifications of plants, this list can go out of date at a moment's notice.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.
The mint family has many recognized hybrids. Synonyms, along with cultivars and varieties where available, are included within the specific species.
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.
Mints are supposed to make good companion plants, repelling pest insects and attracting beneficial ones.
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; some mint varieties are sterile. It is more effective to take and plant cuttings from the runners of healthy mints.
Pests and diseases
- Main article: List of mint diseases
|Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture|
Mentha (from the Greek name of the nymph Minthe). Labiatae. Mint. Strong-scented perennial herbs; grown mostly for their essential oils but sometimes for ornament.
The term mint, often applied to various species of Labiatae, is most frequently used to designate plants of the genus Mentha. This genus is characterized by its square sts. and opposite simple lvs. in common with others of the family, and especially by its aromatic fragrance, its small purple, pink or white fls., with mostly regular 10-nerved calyx, slightly irregular 4-cleft corolla and 4 anther-bearing stamens, crowded in axillary whorls and the whorls often in terminal spikes; ovary 4-parted, style 2-cleft: nutlets ovoid and smooth. —Many forms have been described, and the synonymy is extensive. About 30 species are now recognized, all native in the North Temperate Zone, about half of them being native or naturalized in N. Amer. Six species are cult. more or less for the production of aromatic essential oil, which is found in all parts of the herb, and especially in minute globules on the surface of the lvs. and calyx. Some of the species hybridize freely, producing innumerable intergrading forms which make the limitation of certain species difficult.
The mints are scarcely horticultural subjects, although M. rotundifolia and M. Pulegium, as well as the little M. Requienii, may be used as border plants or ground-covers and for the ornamental foliage of some of the forms. They propagate readily by cuttings and division; some of them produce stolons.
Culture of mints for oil.
Peppermint, the most prominent economic species of mint, ranks as one of the most important of all plants in the production of essential oils. It was originally native in Great Britain and possibly in continental Europe, but is now widely naturalized, growing in many places on both continents like a native plant. There is no record of it in America previous to its introduction to Connecticut in the early part of the eighteenth century. From there it was taken to western New York and to the Western Reserve in Ohio, and in 1835 "roots" were taken from Ohio to Pigeon Prairie, in Michigan, where the industry has grown to larger proportions than anywhere else. Peppermint is now cultivated commercially in southwestern Michigan and adjacent parts of northern Indiana, Wayne county, New York, and in Mitcham, Surrey and Lincolnshire, England, and in Saxony.
The crop is cut either with scythe or mowing-machine in August or early September, when the earliest flowers are developed and before the leaves have fallen. In long, favorable seasons a second crop is sometimes harvested early in November. After cutting, the plants are cured like hay, then raked into windrows and taken to the stills, where the oil is extracted by distillation with steam. A "mint still" (Fig. 2360) usually consists of two retorts (used alternately), wooden or galvanized iron tubs about 7 feet deep and 6 feet in diameter at the top, each with a perforated false bottom and a tight-fitting, removable cover, a condenser of nearly 200 feet of block-tin pipe immersed in tanks of cold water, or more frequently arranged in perpendicular tiers over which cold water runs, a boiler to furnish steam and a receiver or tin can with compartments in which the oil separates by gravity. The yield of oil varies from ten to sixty pounds to the acre, averaging about twenty-five pounds for black mint, the variety now generally grown. Three kinds of peppermint are recognized: (1) American mint, "state mint" of New York (M. piperita), long cultivated in this country and occasionally naturalized; (2) black mint, or black mitcham (M. piperita var. vulgaris), a more productive variety introduced from England about 1889, and (3) white mint, or white mitcham (M. piperita var. officinalis), less productive and too tender for profitable cultivation, but yielding a very superior grade of oil. Peppermint oil is used in confectionery, very extensively in medicines, and for the production of menthol, or more properly pipmenthol. Pipmenthol differs in physical properties from menthol derived from Japanese mint.
Japanese mint, secured from M. arvensis var. piperascens, is cultivated in northern Japan, chiefly on the island of Hondo; not known in the wild state. It has been introduced experimentally in cultivation in England and the United States, but has not been cultivated commercially in these countries. Its oil is inferior in quality to that of Mentha piperita, but it contains a higher percentage of crystallizable menthol, of which it was the original source and for the production of which it is largely used. It is propagated by rootstocks carefully transplanted and cultivated by hand labor. Two crops, rarely three, are obtained in a season, and by abundant fertilizing and intensive culture large yields are obtained. It is usually continued three years from one planting, and then a rotation of other crops follow for three to six years. Three horticultural varieties are recognized, being distinguished chiefly by form of leaf and color of stem. The variety known as "Akakuki," with reddish purple stem and broad, obtuse leaves, is regarded as best.
Spearmint is cultivated on peppermint farms for the production of oil. The plants are propagated and cultivated similar to peppermint and distilled in the same stills. The oil, for which there is a smaller demand than for peppermint, is used chiefly in medicine and to some extent as a flavoring ingredient in chewing-gum and drinks. Spearmint is cultivated in the vicinity of many large cities to supply saloons, where freshly cut sprigs of the plant are used in making the seductive and intoxicating drink known as "mint julep." The plant is more widely known as an ingredient in "mint sauce," the familiar accompaniment of spring lamb and green peas. To supply this demand it is often cultivated in the kitchen- garden. It is easily propagated by the perennial root- stocks, and persists year after year with little care, thriving in nearly all kinds of soil, providing it does not become too dry.
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