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Apple or woolly mint is a perennial plant with broad light green foliage that is cultivated throughout the world. The leaves have serrated edges, are ovate, broad, and hairy, and can even display white variegation depending on the cultivar. Commonly grown as ground cover or as an ornamental plant, apple mint also has culinary and medicinal uses. Even birds like the blue tit are known to line their nests with these mint leaves because the herb has anti-bacterial properties that help create a sterile environment for chicks.
Apple mint is frequently used in cooking and as a garnish in beverages and salads. The leaves are a common ingredient in mint jellies, relishes, and chutneys, and sauces often served with lamb, pork, and other meat dishes. In addition, a handful of apple mint leaves adds a unique flavor to a couscous or fruit salad or a pitcher of ice water, and sprigs can be added to mint juleps and desserts.
This type of mint is also used as a medicinal herb. Steeping four or five springs or leaves with or without tea bags in boiling water for five minutes makes a tea used to relieve a stomach ache or aid digestion after a large meal. The same soothing effect can be obtained by adding sprigs or leaves to regular iced tea. Consult a doctor prior to using any herb for medicinal purposes to avoid potentially harmful interactions with other medications.
This plant's foliage is very fragrant and can be used in aromatherapy. Potpourri, sachets, and dream pillows can all be made using dried apple mint leaves mixed with other complementary herbs like lavender, scented geranium, and lemon balm. Potpourri can be set out in a bowl or heated in a crock pot with water on the low setting. Sachets are small fabric bags stuffed with potpourri used to freshen closets and drawers while dream pillows comfort the sick and help alleviate insomnia. This mint is used in aromatherapy to invoke a sense of warmth.
Apple mint is a hardy plant and requires full sun and little maintenance. The plant grows to a height of between 18 and 24 inches (45 and 60 cm) and produces fragrant pink or white flowers. Apple mint is known to attract bees and butterflies after blooming in mid to late summer. This mint, like most mints, should be confined to a pot unless being grown for ground cover due to its tendency to propagate rapidly. Handling apple mint with bear hands may cause skin irritation or an allergic reaction in some individuals.
Apple Mint is an underground runner. It is relatively hardy and aggressive. If you have other nearby plants (in my case it was grapevines) the apple mint will branch out one foot below ground and strangle the roots of most of these nearby plants. The grape after three years had one small surviving offshoot which had to be transplanted away from the Apple mint.
This was also the favorite drink of one family member who suffered from ulcers related to H-Pylori stomach infection (commonly contracted from chicken). This soothes the stomach and makes a very delicious tea. Bees are also very fond of the flower puff strands on top of this plant and I credit the Apple mint with bees twice setting up residence in or near my home because they love it so much it cuts down on their travel time to just live closer.
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