Water mint (Mentha aquatica)

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

Synonyms: Mentha hirsuta Huds

Common Names : Water mint

Habitat :Water mint is native to much of Europe, northern Africa and western Asia. It has been introduced to North and South America, Australia and some Atlantic islands.It grows in damp places,swamps, fen, marshes, near rivers, streams and ponds, in wet woods.

Description:
Water mint is a herbaceous rhizomatous perennial plant growing to 90 centimetres (35 in) tall. The stems are square in cross section, green or purple, and variably hairy to almost hairless. The rhizomes are wide-spreading, fleshy, and bear fibrous roots. The leaves are ovate to ovate-lanceolate, 2 to 6 centimetres (0.79 to 2.36 in) long and 1 to 4 centimetres (0.39 to 1.57 in) broad, green (sometimes purplish), opposite, toothed, and vary from hairy to nearly hairless. The flowers of the watermint are tiny, densely crowded, purple, tubular, pinkish to lilac in colour and form a terminal hemispherical inflorescence; flowering is from mid to late summer. Water mint is pollinated by insects, and also spreads by underground rhizomes, like other species of mint. All parts of the plant have a distinctly minty smell. A variety known as Mentha aquatica var. litoralis is native to areas of Sweden and Finland near the Baltic Sea. It is unbranched, hairless, with narrower leaves and paler flowers.

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Cultivation:
Succeeds in most soils and situations so long as the soil is not too dry. Grows well in heavy clay soils. A sunny position is best for production of essential oils, but it also succeeds in partial shade. Plants can grow in water up to 15cm deep. 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, especially when bruised, has a pungent aroma of bergamot. The flowers are especially attractive to bees and butterflies. A good companion for brassicas. 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.

Edible Uses: Edible Parts: Leaves.
Used as Condiment &  Tea.

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Leaves – raw or cooked. A strong distinctive peppermint-like fragrance. Used as a flavouring in salads or cooked foods. The leaves are too pungent for most people to use as a flavouring. A herb tea is made from the leaves

Medicinal Uses:
Water mint is Emetic, stimulant and astringent. Used in herbal medicine in diarrhoea and as an emmenagogue, the infusion of 1 OZ. of the dried herb to 1 pint of boiling water being taken in wineglassful doses.

In severe cold and influenza, or in any complaint where it is necessary to set up perspiration and in all inflammatory complaints, internal or external, the tea made from this plant may be taken warm as freely as the patient pleases. It can be used in conjunction with stomach remedies and in difficult menstruation. A strong infusion is inclined to be emetic.

A decoction of Water Mint prepared with vinegar is recommended to stop blood vomiting.

Other Uses:
Repellent;  Strewing.

The plant repels flies, mice and rats. It has a pleasant, fresh scent and was formerly used as a strewing herb and has been strewn in granaries to keep mice and rats off the grain. The plant, harvested before flowering, yields about 0.8% essential oil[240]. The fresh or dried plant is very good when used in herbal baths and can also be used in herb pillows.

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 supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/m/mints-39.html#wil
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mentha_aquatica
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Mentha+aquatica

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