Mentha australis

Botanical Name : Mentha australis
Family: Lamiaceae
Genus: Mentha
Species: M. australis
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Lamiales

Common Name : River mint

Habitat : Mentha australis is a native of eastern Australia, occurring in every state and territory except Western Australia.It grows along streams, usually in semi-shade, in inland areas

Description:
Mentha australis is a Perennial herb  growing to 0.5m.It has soft, aromatic leaves from 25 – 60 mm long, lance shaped and tapering to a point. The leaf margins are toothed. Small white to lilac flowers are seen in the upper leaf axils during summer and autumn.
It  is not frost tender. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects. It is noted for attracting wildlife.

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The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and can grow in heavy clay soil. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It requires moist soil.

Cultivation:
We do not have much information on this species and do not know if it will be hardy in Britain. The following notes are based on the general needs of the genus. Succeeds in most soils and situations so long as the soil is not too dry. Prefers a slightly acid soil. Grows well in heavy clay soils. A sunny position is best for production of essential oils, but succeeds in partial shade. Most mints have fairly aggressive spreading roots and, unless you have the space to let them roam, they need to be restrained by some means such as planting them in containers that are buried in the soil. Hybridizes freely with other members of this genus. The whole plant has a mint-like aroma. The flowers are very attractive to bees and butterflies. A good companion plant for growing near cabbages and tomatoes, helping to deter pests. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer.

Propagation:
Seed – sow spring in a cold frame. Germination is usually fairly quick. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and plant them out in the summer. Mentha species are very prone to hybridisation and so the seed cannot be relied on to breed true. Even without hybridisation, seedlings will not be uniform and so the content of medicinal oils etc will vary. When growing plants with a particular aroma it is best to propagate them by division. Division can be easily carried out at almost any time of the year, though it is probably best done in the spring or autumn to allow the plant to establish more quickly. Virtually any part of the root is capable of growing into a new plant. Larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. However, for maximum increase it is possible to divide the roots up into sections no more than 3cm long and pot these up in light shade in a cold frame. They will quickly become established and can be planted out in the summer.

Medicinal Uses:
Abortifacient; Antiseptic; Carminative; Febrifuge.

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Like many other members of this genus, this species is often used as a domestic herbal remedy, being valued especially for its antiseptic properties and its beneficial effect on the digestion. Like other members of the genus, it is best not used by pregnant women because large doses can cause an abortion. A tea made from the leaves of most mint species has traditionally been used in the treatment of fevers, headaches, digestive disorders and various minor ailments. The leaves are harvested as the plant comes into flower and can be dried for later use. The essential oil in the leaves is antiseptic, though it is toxic in large doses and can cause abortions.

Mentha australis is widespread in inland areas of Australia and was used as a medicinal plant by the Aborigines.  It was boiled in water and used for the relief of coughs and colds.  It is recorded the plant was used by the Aborigines to induce abortions.  It was also used by early settlers as a tonic. A tea made from the leaves of most mint species has traditionally been used in the treatment of fevers, headaches, digestive disorders and various minor ailments. The leaves are harvested as the plant comes into flower and can be dried for later use. The essential oil in the leaves is antiseptic, though it is toxic in large doses and can cause abortions.

Other Uses:
Essential; Repellent; Strewing.

The leaves contain about 0.2% of an essential oil. It is a coarse peppermint. Rats and mice intensely dislike the smell of mint. The plant was therefore used in homes as a strewing herb and has also been spread in granaries to keep the rodents off the grain.

Scented Plants
Plant: Crushed Dried
The whole plant has a mint-like aroma.

Known Hazards:   Although no records of toxicity have been seen for this species, large quantities of some members of this genus, especially when taken in the form of the extracted essential oil, can cause abortions so some caution is advised

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider

Resources:
http://digedibles.com/database/plants.php?Mentha+australis
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Mentha+australis
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_LMN.htm

http://anpsa.org.au/m-aus.html

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