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Common Name :Black Peppermint
Mentha x piperita vulgaris is a dark leaved hardy perennial herb, growing to 0.5 m (1ft 8in) by 1 m (3ft 3in).
It is not frost tender. It is in flower from Aug to October. Flower colour is mauve. 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.
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 plants also succeed in partial shade. Prefers a slightly acid soil. A commonly grown herb, it is often cultivated commercially for its essential oil. This is the black form of peppermint and it is said to produce a superior essential oil, making it the preferred choice as a food flavouring and for medicinal purposes. The oil is of better quality when the plant is grown on dry soils. 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. 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 are eaten raw or cooked. A strong peppermint flavour, they are used as a flavouring in salads or cooked foods. This plant should not be used by pregnant women, see the notes above on toxicity. 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.
Black peppermint is a very important and commonly used herbal 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 stronger acting than white peppermint (Mentha x piperita officinalis). 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’.
An essential oil is obtained from the whole plant. It is used medicinally and as a food flavouring. 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.