What is Mint?

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  • Last Modified Date: 15 October 2019
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An herb is a plant whose leaves, seeds, or flowers are used for flavoring food or in medicine. Other applications of herbs include cosmetics, dyes, and perfumes. The word derives from the Latin herba, meaning "green crops." With species in the mint genus native to Australia, North America, Europe, and Asia, mint is an herb that includes more varieties than just the popular spearmint and peppermint. In fact, many other herbs used as seasonings come from the same family (Lamiaceae), including basil, catnip, oregano, rosemary, and sage; while wintergreen, which might be expected to be related to mint, is actually from a different family.

History. Unsurprisingly, mint was chewed as a breath freshener early in history. Ovid recounts the story of a nymph named Minthe or Menthe who was about to be seduced by Hades, God of the Underworld, when his wife, Persephone, coming upon them, turned her into a plant. Mint was used in Ancient Greek funeral rites, as well as in an ancient fermented barley drink.

Description. Members of the mint family produce green bushy plants. While most varieties attain a height of 1-3 feet, they are nevertheless sometimes used as ground cover. Leaf color varies by species, and the flowers may be white, pink, or lavender.


Gardening. The members of the mint family are hardy perennials with a tendency to spread, and gardeners may choose to confine them to containers for this reason. Popular types include spearmint, peppermint, and bergamot, as well as citrus- and pineapple-flavored mint, and even chocolate mint. They grow well in moist, well-drained soil, and in partial shade. Because mints cross-pollinate, producing seeds that are often of poor quality and not true to type, it is best to deadhead the flowers and to propagate using division, root cuttings, or runners.

Food and other uses. Many varieties of fresh and dried mint are used as seasonings in a variety of cuisines, from Indian and Southeast Asian curries and Middle Eastern tabouleh to Greek keftedes, British lamb with mint sauce, and the Southern US mint julep. Leaves are also infused to make a drink variously referred to as herbal tea or tisane, and as the flavoring component for mint jelly. While mint is used as flavoring in toothpaste and medicines to treat stomach complaints, menthol, made from mint oil, is used in over-the-counter products for coughs, in lip balms, and in mouthwashes. The variety of mint called pennyroyal should not be ingested, but is used as a flea repellent.

Preservation. Drying is not ideal for every herb, but it works well for mint. Harvest before the plants bloom; cutting the stems; tying them together; and hanging them from hooks on or near the ceiling for about a week in a warm, dry, dark location until they are crisp. Some people use the leaves only, while others use the stems as well. Store in a cool, dark place in an airtight container with a desiccant added.


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Post 4

This helped a little with my science project research paper so yay! Not much I mint but it got it all started like the first domino that falls in the domino affect. So thanks.

Post 2

There are two other mints I know of, apple mint, it has rounded leaves, and Bowles mint used mostly in mint sauces.

Post 1

What are the different types of mint other than peppermint and spearmint?

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