Synonyms: Mentha canadensis. L.
Common Names: American Wild Mint
Mentha arvensis villosa is a perennial herb growing to 0.6 m (2ft) by 1 m (3ft 3in).
It is not frost tender.It blooms during July – September. 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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Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and can grow in heavy clay soil. Suitable pHj: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.
An easily grown plant, it succeeds in most soils and situations so long as the soil is not too dry. This species tolerates much drier conditions than other members of the genus. Prefers a slightly acid soil. Grows well in heavy clay soils. A sunny position is best for production of essential oils, but it also succeeds in partial shade. Plants are hardy to at least -15°c. 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. The whole plant has a very strong smell of mint. Hybridizes freely with other members of this genus. The flowers are very attractive to bees and butterflies. A good companion plant for growing near brassicas and tomatoes, helping to deter insect pests. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer.
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 .
Leaves – raw or cooked. Fragrant and pleasant tasting, the leaves are used as a flavouring in salads or cooked foods. A herb tea is made from the leaves.
Mentha arvensis villosa 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 decoction of the ground leaves and stems is used to treat feelings of nausea. The tea is also used in the treatment of colds, fevers, sore throats, gas, colic, indigestion etc. 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.
The plant is used as an insect repellent. 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. An essential oil is obtained from the leaves, it is used as a flavouring for toothpastes etc. It contains thymol and pulegone.
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.