Mentha (also known as Mint, from Greek míntha, Linear B mi-ta) is a genus of flowering plants in the family Lamiaceae (mint family). The species are not clearly distinct and estimates of the number of species varies from 13 to 18. Hybridization between some of the species occurs naturally. Many other hybrids as well as numerous cultivars are known in cultivation. The genus has a subcosmopolitan distribution across Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, and North America.
Mints are aromatic, almost exclusively perennial, rarely annual, herbs. They have wide-spreading underground and overground stolons and erect, square, branched stems. The leaves are arranged in opposite pairs, from oblong to lanceolate, often downy, and with a serrate margin. Leaf colors range from dark green and gray-green to purple, blue, and sometimes pale yellow. The flowers are white to purple and produced in false whorls called verticillasters. The corolla is two-lipped with four subequal lobes, the upper lobe usually the largest. The fruit is a small, dry capsule containing one to four seeds.
MENTHA MINT ~!!
Mints are aromatic, almost exclusively perennial, rarely annual, herbs ~!!
Culinary 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, while in British cuisine and American cuisine, mint sauce and mint jelly are used, respectively. 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. 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. 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. Aromatherapy Known in Greek Mythology as the herb of hospitality, one of the first known uses for mint in Europe was as a room deodorizer. The herb was strewn across floors to cover the smell of the hard-packed soil. Stepping on the mint helped to spread its scent through the room. Today, it is more commonly used for aromatherapy through the use of essential oils. Cultivation: The preference is full or partial sun and moist to slightly dry conditions. Growth is best in fertile loamy soil; it also flourishes in rocky soil. Sometimes transplanted plants become afflicted with rust, but these leaves soon fall off and are replaced by healthy leaves. During summer droughts, the leaves of stressed-out plants may become afflicted with rust, or the lower leaves may turn yellow and fall off their stems. Generally, this plant is easy to grow, especially if it receives adequate water during summer droughts or some protection from the afternoon sun. The leaves of this plant can be boiled in water to make an excellent mint tea