Mentha piperita officinalis

Botanical Name: Mentha piperita officinalis
Family: Lamiaceae
Genus: Mentha
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Lamiales

Common Name : White Peppermint

Habitat : White Peppermint is native to Europe and was first described in 1753 by Linnaeus and thought to be a new species. However, it was later determined to be a hybrid from parents Mentha aquatica (Watermint) and Mentha spicata (Spearmint). It is still sometimes found in the wild near the parent plants. The preferred native habitat is moist soils near streams and natural drainage lines. White Peppermint is fast growing and is one of the main cultivated varieties of Peppermint.

Description:
White Peppermint is an evergreen perennial growing from 30-90 cm high, with a spreading habit. It has green leaves that end in a point and have serrated edges. The leaves are quite large at 4-9cm long and 1.5-4cm wide. The leaves a stems may be slightly fuzzy. The purple flowers are held in whorls and appear in summer. White Peppermint is very similar to Peppermint, however it lacks the red flush sometimes appearing on leaves and the red stems. Overall, the White Peppermint is a lighter shade of green and it has a milder taste than Peppermint.

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It is not frost tender. It is in flower from Aug to October. 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 pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

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 the production of essential oils, but the plant also succeeds in partial shade. Prefers a slightly acid soil. Often grown in the herb garden and also commercially for its essential oil. The whole plant has a pleasant aroma of peppermint. 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 flowers are very attractive to bees and butterflies. A good companion for growing near cabbages and tomatoes, helping to keep them free of insect pests. Produces a better quality essential oil if the plant is grown in dry ground. 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:
Leaves – raw or cooked. A mild peppermint flavour, they are used as a flavouring in salads or cooked foods. An essential oil from the leaves and flowers is used as a flavouring in sweets, chewing gum, ice cream etc. A herb tea is made from the fresh or dried leaves. It may be used added to drinks, salads, desserts and cooked dishes. It is used in toothpaste…..click & see
Medicinal Uses:
White peppermint is a very important and commonly used remedy, being employed by allopathic doctors as well as herbalists. It is also widely used as a domestic remedy. This cultivar is considered to be milder acting than black peppermint (Mentha x piperita vulgaris). A tea made from the leaves has traditionally been used in the treatment of fevers, headaches, digestive disorders (especially flatulence) and various minor ailments. The herb is abortifacient, anodyne, antiseptic, antispasmodic, carminative, cholagogue, diaphoretic, refrigerant, stomachic, tonic and vasodilator. An infusion is used in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome, digestive problems, spastic colon etc. Externally a lotion is applied to the skin to relieve pain and reduce sensitivity. The leaves and stems can be used fresh or dried, they are harvested for drying in August as the flowers start to open. The essential oil in the leaves is antiseptic and strongly antibacterial, though it is toxic in large doses. When diluted it can be used as an inhalant and chest rub for respiratory infections. The essential oil is used in aromatherapy. Its keyword is ‘Cooling’.
Menthol, the active constituent in Peppermint, activates cold sensitive receptors on the skin and mucosal tissues creating the cooling sensation

Other Uses:
An essential oil obtained from the whole plant is used in perfumery. It is also an ingredient of oral hygiene preparations, toiletries etc. Peppermint leaves are used as an ingredient of pot-pourri. They were formerly used as a strewing herb The plant repels insects, rats etc. 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.

Known Hazards : In large quantities this plant, especially in the form of the extracted essential oil, can cause abortions so should not be used by pregnant women.

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:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peppermint
http://www.herbcottage.com.au/mint-white-peppermint.html
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Mentha+x+piperita+officinalis

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