What is mint and where does it grow?
An ancient Greek legend says that mint is the beautiful nymph Mint turned into a plant. The goddess Persephone, having learned that her husband Aida liked the young beauty, cast a spell on the nymph. Since then, mint has appeared in Crete and elsewhere in the Mediterranean..
Where does mint grow today? Unfortunately, this is just a beautiful fairy tale, otherwise the world would have such a variety of fragrant, spicy-aromatic and even medicinal plants, united under the common name – mint. Today, more than 25 species have been discovered belonging to the Yasnotkov family, which have some common features, but also have important differences. What is mint growing in different parts of the world?
If we make a general description for most species, then mint is a herb with straight or lodging stems, depending on the species, from 20 to 150 centimeters. Mint has oval, ovoid or elongated leaves about 4–8 cm long, often pubescent, like the stems. In addition, mint is distinguished by a special flower shape, which gave the second name to the whole family – Labia.
Of the total number of existing species, no more than a third is actively cultivated, but fragrant and even ornamental plants, which are its very distant relatives, are sometimes considered mint..
See also: how and where pistachios grow
The most famous in Russia is meadow mint or Mentha arvensis. This species can be seen as a wild plant in European countries and almost everywhere in our country from its western borders to the Far East. This species is also called noble mint or Lapland mint..
The oil obtained from the culture contains 60 to 92% menthol. Despite this, the taste of meadow mint is mild, which allows the leaves and tops of the shoots to be used for culinary and medicinal purposes. The stems of this perennial species grow up to 80 cm in height. Rhizomes, like those of related plants, are creeping, powerful. Flowers are pinkish or lilac in color, small, collected on false whorls located along the stem. The flowering time of meadow mint begins in June and ends only in October.
Garden mint: photo and description of the species
Garden mint or Mentha spicata is a perennial herb that does not have such a bright taste as peppermint, but is unmatched in mass in European plantings. In the wild, the species can be found in the southwest and south of Russia, where mint grows in humid shaded areas.
This variety of mint has an annual tetrahedral stem, reaching a length of about a meter, on which oblong-ovate leaves with pointed tips are located. As you can see in the photo of garden mint, the upper part of the leaf is completely smooth, the smallest hairs are only veins on the back. The height of the plant does not exceed 45 cm, but the width of the bush grows up to 90 cm.Small purple flowers of garden mint, as in the photo, appear in July and fade only at the end of summer.
For culinary purposes, dry and fresh mint leaves are used with a pronounced aroma and a direct, slightly pungent taste..
Curly mint, curly mint or Mentha spicata crispa is a type of garden mint with a specific foliage shape. Although it was possible to find this attractive plant in the wild only in certain regions of Asia, southern Europe and northern Africa, curly mint quickly moved to regions with a temperate climate and is cultivated not only in European countries and Russia, but also on the North American continent..
The height of a perennial plant is from 30 to 100 cm, the stems are powerful, erect, seated with crushed, jagged edges, bright green leaves. The flowers of curly mint differ little from the flowers of closely related species, have a pale pink or white color and are collected in whorled inflorescences.
Moroccan mint or Mentha spicata crispa Moroccan is nothing more than curly mint. The special name is of French origin and refers to the times when Morocco, along with other North African provinces, was a colony of France. Spices, fruits and plants brought from this country seemed outlandish to Europeans.
Moroccan mint, grown in a hotter climate than in the Old World, contained more essential oils and menthol, moreover, it had unusual corrugated leaves, and therefore it earned its name..
Mentha rotundifolia or round-leaved mint is called Egyptian, gold and confectionery. Often an interspecific hybrid between long-leaved and fragrant mint is called apple mint. Originally, the species comes from Asia Minor or from the North of Africa..
And in the middle lane and in the south of Europe, in the countries of the Caucasus and in Russia, where mint grows as a garden crop, the plant is valued for its pleasant, refreshing taste, soft aroma.
For culinary purposes, not only young leaves are used, but also the entire green part of the plant. In addition to the usual forms of apple mint with green foliage, variegated varieties have been bred today, combining decorativeness and spicy-taste qualities. Both those and other varieties of apple mint form herbaceous bushes, 50 to 70 cm in height, covered with round or wide ovoid leaves characteristic of the species, on which a thick pile is clearly visible.
The growing popularity of chocolate mint or Mentha piperita citrata Chocolate is a peppermint variation that combines menthol scent with light citrus and chocolate tones..
The impression that mint really has something to do with the favorite delicacy of many maintains the color of the plant, which contains a lot of anthocyanins..
Common in the Mediterranean and Asia Minor, as well as in a number of European countries, fragrant mint or Mentha suaveolens is a perennial fragrant plant that is used in cooking and medicine. In the wild, the plant prefers sunny, but not dry edges..
In countries where mint of this species grows, it reaches a height of 30 to 100 cm. Stems are erect, pubescent, covered with heart-shaped medium-sized green leaves. The leaf blades are compressed, with small denticles along the edges. Fragrant mint blooms, forming dense cone-shaped inflorescences, consisting of small white flowers.
Japanese mint: description of the type and photo
Little known to Europeans and shown in the photo, Japanese mint or Mentha japonica is a perennial plant found only on two islands of the Japanese archipelago, Hokkaido and Honshu..
The places where Japanese mint grows are mainly swampy or humid forests. The height of the plant, which is rare even for the country of the Rising Sun, does not exceed 40 cm, the stems are erect or creeping, the leaves are small, barely reaching 2 cm in length. Small flowers of a white or pale purple hue are collected in sparse inflorescences. The flowering time of Japanese mint, pictured, begins in August and lasts until mid-autumn..
Like other species of the family, the plant contains essential oils and is used for the manufacture of cosmetics, and is also used as a spice and flavoring seasoning..
Forest mint: description and photo
In our country, forest mint or amulets is called a plant belonging to the Yasnotkov family, but which is only a distant relative of the familiar mint. This is common oregano or Origanum vulgare. In Europe, and especially in the countries of the Mediterranean region, the forest mint shown in the photo is known as oregano.
In Russia, where oregano or forest mint grows almost throughout the country in the wild, the culture is used as a medicinal one. In the middle zone of the European part and in Siberia, oregano can be found in floodplain meadows and clearings, in oak forests and along the edges of coniferous forests.
In France, Italy and the USA, wild oregano or oregano is prized as a condiment to vegetable and meat dishes, baked goods and marinades. Therefore, in these regions, herbaceous perennial is actively cultivated. The stems of forest mint begin to branch out already above the soil level, growing up to 30 – 70 cm. The oval oblong leaves of oregano are dark on top and noticeably lighter on the back. Inflorescences are not whorled or carpal, like in mint, but corymbose, consisting of pinkish or light purple small flowers.
Mexican mint, most of which grows on the North American continent, is included with garden mint in one family and even a group, but has a different name. Botanists and gardeners, this plant is better known as a lofant, a grate or Agastache scrophulariifolia..
This is a spectacular perennial that forms bushes up to one and a half meters high and has a rather strong aroma, which gave reason to call the plant Mexican mint..
Lofant is grown in Russian regions as an attractive ornamental crop, an excellent honey plant and a medicinal plant. True, in order for Mexican mint in the European part of the middle zone, in Western Siberia and in the Urals to survive the winter, the culture needs shelter and a guarantee that in the spring the roots of the plant will not end up in the water.
In one place, the multicolor grows well up to 6 years. Today, many varieties have been bred with flowers of all kinds of shades from lilac and deep blue to orange and crimson.
Homemade mint: photo and description of species
If Mexican mint or oregano, not related to the closest relatives of well-known garden varieties, is still used as a medicinal and spicy plant, then homemade mint belonging to the genus Plectranthus is an exclusively ornamental crop..
A large number of plants, native to the tropical zones of Asia, Africa, Australia and South America, claim the right to be called home mint..
Plectrantus are perennials, some of which have found a place in houses as indoor plants, and some are grown as ornamental garden plants. Moreover, among the herbaceous plants, there are also tall shrubs..
Plectranthus fruticosus or shrub plectranthus that grows up to a meter tall is one of the species similar to mint. The shrub consists of superficial creeping roots, pubescent branching shoots, planted with heart-shaped pointed leaves 10 cm long. Rounded teeth are visible on the leaves.
Homemade mint, as in the photo, has lilac fragrant flowers combined into loose inflorescences at the tops of the shoots.
Coleus or nettle with bright variegated foliage also refers to the same species as in the photo, homemade mint.
Another shrub that reaches a record height of 2.5 meters for the species is called Plectranthus ecklonii. In South Africa, where mint of this exotic variety grows, the plant prefers lighted areas or partial shade. The shrub grows rather slowly, blooms annually, giving lush, loose inflorescences of blue, lilac or white at the ends of the shoots. Such a plectrantus can be propagated by layering or cuttings. In Russia, shelter for the winter and pruning of shoots are mandatory so that the growth ripens well by the cold.
Plectranthus of the species Plectranthus oertendahlii is a rather small houseplant whose shoots do not grow longer than 50 cm and have a creeping appearance. The leaves of the house mint shown in the photo have a rounded ovoid shape and an unusual color. The general tone of the foliage is dark green, and the veins are noticeably lighter. The flowers of this culture are white or with a barely visible purple tint, small, collected in apical loose inflorescences.
Plectranthus verticillatus or plectranthus whorled has smooth ovoid leaves of light green color. In this case, the stems and even the leaf stalks are purple or purple. Flowering is accompanied by the appearance of white flowers, decorated with burgundy or lilac specks inside the corolla..
One of the most mint-like Plectranthus species is Plectranthus madagascariensis. A small, up to 1 meter high shrub with creeping or creeping shoots is grown as an ampelous culture and takes root well in the gardens of the European part of the country.
Plectranthus hybrid “Mona Lavender” is an amazingly beautiful hybrid form. As you can see in the photo, the house mint of this species has erect shoots, forming a compact bush, up to 50 cm high. The leaves have jagged notches along the edge. Abundant flowering, very attractive. Separate flowers, like lavender, beautiful lilac shade. Leaves up to 5 cm long have a deep green or even purple color, which is more common on young foliage.