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Mentha (also known as mint, from Greek μίνθα míntha,[2] Linear B mi-ta[3]) is a genus of plants in the family Lamiaceae (mint family).[4] The exact distinction between species is unclear; it is estimated that 13 to 24 species exist.[5][1] Hybridization between some of the species occurs naturally and many hybrids, as well as numerous cultivars, are known.

Mentha
Mint 2014-06-01 00-53.jpg
Mentha × piperita (Peppermint)
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Lamiales
Family: Lamiaceae
Subfamily: Nepetoideae
Tribe: Mentheae
Genus: Mentha
L.
Type species
Mentha spicata
Synonyms[1]

The genus has a subcosmopolitan distribution across Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, and North America.[6]

The species that makes up the genus Mentha are widely distributed and can be found in many environments. Most grow best in wet environments and moist soils. Mints will grow 10–120 cm tall and can spread over an indeterminate area. Due to their tendency to spread unchecked, some mints are considered invasive.[7]

Contents

DescriptionEdit

Mints are aromatic, almost exclusively perennial herbs. They have wide-spreading underground and overground stolons[8] and erect, square,[9] branched stems. The leaves are arranged in opposite pairs, from oblong to lanceolate, often downy, and with a serrated margin. Leaf colors range from dark green and gray-green to purple, blue, and sometimes pale yellow.[6] The flowers are white to purple and produced in false whorls called verticillasters. The corolla is two-lipped with four subequal lobes, the upper lobe usually the largest. The fruit is a nutlet, containing one to four seeds.

TaxonomyEdit

Mentha is a member of the tribe Mentheae in the subfamily Nepetoideae. The tribe contains about 65 genera, and relationships within it remain obscure.[4] Authors have disagreed on the circumscription of Mentha. For example, M. cervina has been placed in Pulegium and Preslia, and M. cunninghamii has been placed in Micromeria.[10] In 2004, a molecular phylogenetic study indicated that both M. cervina and M. cunninghamii should be included in Mentha.[5] However, M. cunninghamii was excluded in a 2007 treatment of the genus.[10]

More than 3,000 names have been published in the genus Mentha, at ranks from species to forms, the majority of which are regarded as synonyms or illegitimate names. The taxonomy of the genus is made difficult because many species hybridize readily, or are themselves derived from possibly ancient hybridization events. Seeds from hybrids give rise to variable offspring, which may spread through vegetative propagation. The variability has led to what has been described as "paroxysms of species and subspecific taxa"; for example, one taxonomist published 434 new mint taxa for central Europe alone between 1911 and 1916.[10] Recent sources recognize between 18[10] and 24[1] species.

SpeciesEdit

 
Fresh Mint leaves

As of July 2019, Plants of the World Online recognized the following species:[1]

HybridsEdit

 
The Mentha × piperita hybrid known as "chocolate mint"

The mint genus has a large grouping of recognized hybrids. Those accepted by Plants of the World Online are listed below.[1] Parent species are taken from Tucker & Naczi (2007).[10] Synonyms, along with cultivars and varieties where available, are included within the specific nothospecies.

CultivationEdit

 
Mentha x gracilis and M. rotundifolia: The steel ring is to control the spread of the plant.

All mints thrive near pools of water, lakes, rivers, and cool moist spots in partial shade.[11] In general, mints tolerate a wide range of conditions, and can also be grown in full sun. Mint grows all year round.[12]

They are fast-growing, extending their reach along surfaces through a network of runners. Due to their speedy growth, one plant of each desired mint, along with a little care, will provide more than enough mint for home use. Some mint species are more invasive than others. Even with the less invasive mints, care should be taken when mixing any mint with any other plants, lest the mint take over. To control mints in an open environment, they should be planted in deep, bottomless containers sunk in the ground, or planted above ground in tubs and barrels.[11]

Some mints can be propagated by seed, but growth from seed can be an unreliable method for raising mint for two reasons: mint seeds are highly variable — one might not end up with what one supposed was planted[11] — and some mint varieties are sterile. It is more effective to take and plant cuttings from the runners of healthy mints.

The most common and popular mints for commercial cultivation are peppermint (Mentha × piperita), native spearmint (Mentha spicata), Scotch spearmint (Mentha x gracilis), and cornmint (Mentha arvensis);[13] also (more recently) apple mint (Mentha suaveolens).

Mints are supposed to make good companion plants, repelling pesty insects and attracting beneficial ones. They are susceptible to whitefly and aphids.

Harvesting of mint leaves can be done at any time. Fresh leaves should be used immediately or stored up to a few days in plastic bags in a refrigerator. Optionally, leaves can be frozen in ice cube trays. Dried mint leaves should be stored in an airtight container placed in a cool, dark, dry area.[14]

UsesEdit

CulinaryEdit

 
A jar of mint jelly: Mint jelly is a traditional condiment served with lamb dishes.
 
Limonana (mint lemonade) served in Damascus, Syria

The leaf, fresh or dried, is the culinary source of mint. Fresh mint is usually preferred over dried mint when storage of the mint is not a problem. The leaves have a warm, fresh, aromatic, sweet flavor with a cool aftertaste, and are used in teas, beverages, jellies, syrups, candies, and ice creams. In Middle Eastern cuisine, mint is used on lamb dishes, while in British cuisine and American cuisine, mint sauce and mint jelly are used, respectively.

Mint is a necessary ingredient in Touareg tea, a popular tea in northern African and Arab countries. Tea in Arab countries is popularly drunk this way. Alcoholic drinks sometimes feature mint for flavor or garnish, such as the mint julep and the mojito. Crème de menthe is a mint-flavored liqueur used in drinks such as the grasshopper.

Mint essential oil and menthol are extensively used as flavorings in breath fresheners, drinks, antiseptic mouth rinses, toothpaste, chewing gum, desserts, and candies, such as mint (candy) and mint chocolate. The substances that give the mints their characteristic aromas and flavors are menthol (the main aroma of peppermint and Japanese peppermint) and pulegone (in pennyroyal and Corsican mint). The compound primarily responsible for the aroma and flavor of spearmint is L-carvone.

Mints are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species, including buff ermine moths.

Traditional medicine and cosmeticsEdit

Mint was originally used as a medicinal herb to treat stomach ache and chest pains.[15] There are several uses in traditional medicine[16] and preliminary research for possible use in treating irritable bowel syndrome.[15]

Menthol from mint essential oil (40–90%) is an ingredient of many cosmetics and some perfumes. Menthol and mint essential oil are also used in aromatherapy which may have clinical use to alleviate post-surgery nausea.[15][17]

Allergic reactionEdit

Although it is used in many consumer products, mint may cause allergic reactions in some people, inducing symptoms such as abdominal cramps, diarrhea, headaches, heartburn, tingling or numbing around the mouth, anaphylaxis or contact dermatitis.[15][18]

InsecticidesEdit

Mint oil is also used as an environmentally friendly insecticide for its ability to kill some common pests such as wasps, hornets, ants, and cockroaches.[19]

Room scent and aromatherapyEdit

Known in Greek mythology as the herb of hospitality,[20] one of mint's first known uses in Europe was as a room deodorizer.[21] The herb was strewn across floors to cover the smell of the hard-packed soil. Stepping on the mint helped to spread its scent through the room. Today, it is more commonly used for aromatherapy through the use of essential oils.

DiseasesEdit

Etymology of "mint"Edit

 
An example of mint leaves

Mint descends from the Latin word mentha, which is rooted in the Greek word minthe, personified in Greek mythology as Minthe, a nymph who was transformed into a mint plant, and reflex of a proto-Indo-European root whence also Sanskrit -mantha, mathana (premna serratifolia).

Mint leaves, without a qualifier like 'peppermint' or 'apple mint', generally refers to spearmint leaves.

In Spain and Central and South America, mint is known as menta. In Lusophone countries, especially in Portugal, mint species are popularly known as hortelã. In many Indo-Aryan languages, it is called pudīna, (Sindhi: ڦُودنو‎), Hindi: पुदीना , (Bengali: পুদিনা).

The taxonomic family Lamiaceae is known as the mint family. It includes many other aromatic herbs, including most of the more common cooking herbs, such as basil, rosemary, sage, oregano, and catnip.

As an English colloquial term, any small mint-flavored confectionery item can be called a mint.[22]

In common usage, other plants with fragrant leaves may be called "mint", although they are not in the mint family.

Fossil recordEdit

Mentha pliocenica fossil seeds have been excavated in Pliocene deposits of Dvorets on the right bank of the Dnieper river between the cities of Rechitsa and Loyew, in south-eastern Belarus. The fossil seeds are similar to the seeds of Mentha aquatica and Mentha arvensis.[23]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d e "Mentha L.". Plants of the World Online. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Retrieved 2019-07-15.
  2. ^ μίνθα. Liddell, Henry George; Scott, Robert; A Greek–English Lexicon at the Perseus Project
  3. ^ Palaeolexicon, Word study tool of ancient languages
  4. ^ a b Harley, Raymond M.; Atkins, Sandy; Budantsev, Andrey L.; Cantino, Philip D.; Conn, Barry J.; Grayer, Renée J.; Harley, Madeline M.; de Kok, Rogier P.J.; Krestovskaja, Tatyana V. (2004). "Labiatae". In Kubitzki, Klaus; Kadereit, Joachim W. (eds.). The Families and Genera of Vascular Plants. VII. Berlin; Heidelberg, Germany: Springer-Verlag. pp. 167–275. ISBN 978-3-540-40593-1.
  5. ^ a b Bunsawat, Jiranan; Elliott, Natalina E.; Hertweck, Kate L.; Sproles, Elizabeth; Alice, Lawrence A. (2004). "Phylogenetics of Mentha (Lamiaceae): Evidence from Chloroplast DNA Sequences". Systematic Botany. 29 (4): 959–964. doi:10.1600/0363644042450973. JSTOR 25064024.
  6. ^ a b Brickell, Christopher; Zuk, Judith D. (1997). The American Horticultural Society: A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants. New York, NY: DK Publishing. p. 668. ISBN 978-0-7894-1943-9.
  7. ^ Brickell, Christopher; Cole, Trevor (2002). The American Horticultural Society: Encyclopedia of Plants & Flowers. New York, NY: DK Publishing. p. 605. ISBN 978-0-7894-8993-7.
  8. ^ Aflatuni, Abbas; Uusitalo, J.; Ek, S.; Hohtola, A. (January–February 2005). "Variation in the Amount of Yield and in the Extract Composition Between Conventionally Produced and Micropropagated Peppermint and Spearmint". Journal of Essential Oil Research. 17 (1): 66–70. doi:10.1080/10412905.2005.9698833. Archived from the original on 2007-06-17. Retrieved 2005-05-10.
  9. ^ Rose, Francis (1981). The Wild Flower Key. Frederick Warne & Co. p. 310. ISBN 978-0-7232-2419-8.
  10. ^ a b c d e Tucker, Arthur O.; Naczi, Robert F. C. (2007). "Mentha: An Overview of its Classification and Relationships". In Lawrence, Brian M. (ed.). Mint: The Genus Mentha. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press, Taylor and Francis Group. pp. 1–39. ISBN 978-0-8493-0779-9.
  11. ^ a b c Bradley, Fern (1992). Rodale's All-new Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening. Emmaus, Pennsylvania: Rodale Press. p. 390. ISBN 978-0-87857-999-0.
  12. ^ http://www.harighotra.co.uk/my-blog/minted
  13. ^ Wees, David (4 March 2015) [first published online 8 April 2013]. "Mint, Economic Importance". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2015-12-31.
  14. ^ Ortiz, Elisabeth (1992). The Encyclopedia of Herbs, Spices & Flavorings. London: Dorling Kindersley. pp. 36–7. ISBN 978-1-56458-065-8.
  15. ^ a b c d "Peppermint oil". National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, US National Institutes of Health. 2014. Retrieved 2014-10-11.
  16. ^ Jamila, F.; Mostafa, E. (2014). "Ethnobotanical survey of medicinal plants used by people in Oriental Morocco to manage various ailments". Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 154 (1): 76–87. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2014.03.016. PMID 24685583.
  17. ^ Hunt, R.; Dienemann, J.; Norton, H.J.; Hartley, W.; Hudgens, A.; Stern, T.; Divine, G. (2013). "Aromatherapy as Treatment for Postoperative Nausea". Anesthesia & Analgesia. 117 (3): 597. doi:10.1213/ANE.0b013e31824a0b1c.
  18. ^ Bayat, R.; Borici-Mazi, R. (2014). "A case of anaphylaxis to peppermint". Allergy, Asthma & Clinical Immunology. 10: 6. doi:10.1186/1710-1492-10-6. PMC 3912937.
  19. ^ Bounds, Gwendolyn (30 July 2009). "Death by Mint Oil: Natural Pesticides". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2010-12-06.
  20. ^ "Mint". South Texas Unit of The Herb Society of America. Archived from the original on 2013-06-29. Retrieved 2013-07-14.
  21. ^ Huntington, Sharon J. (18 May 2004). "A not-so-boring history of flooring". The Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 2013-07-14.
  22. ^ Davidson, Alan (1999). The Oxford Companion to Food. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 508. ISBN 978-0-19-211579-9.
  23. ^ Velichkevich, Felix Yu.; Zastawniak, Ewa (2003). "The Pliocene flora of Kholmech, south-eastern Belarus and its correlation with other Pliocene floras of Europe". Acta Palaeobotanica. 43 (2): 137–259. Retrieved 2019-07-16.

External linksEdit