Spearmint, also known as garden mint, common mint, lamb mint and mackerel mint, is a species of mint, Mentha spicata, native to Europe and southern temperate Asia, extending from Ireland in the west to southern China in the east. It is naturalized in many other temperate parts of the world, including northern and southern Africa, North America and South America. It is used as a flavoring in food and herbal teas. The aromatic oil, called oil of spearmint, is also used as a flavoring and sometimes as a scent.
(of M. spicata subsp. condensata)
(of M. spicata subsp. spicata)
The species and its subspecies have many synonyms, including Mentha crispa, Mentha crispata and Mentha viridis.
- 1 Description
- 2 Taxonomy
- 3 History and domestication
- 4 Ecology
- 5 Cultivation
- 6 Oil uses
- 7 Medical research
- 8 Beverages
- 9 Gallery
- 10 References
- 11 External links
Spearmint is a perennial herbaceous plant. It is 30–100 cm (12–39 in) tall, with variably hairless to hairy stems and foliage, and a wide-spreading fleshy underground rhizome from which it grows. The leaves are 5–9 cm (2–3 1⁄2 in) long and 1.5–3 cm (1⁄2–1 1⁄4 in) broad, with a serrated margin. The stem is square-shaped, a trademark of the mint family of herbs. Spearmint produces flowers in slender spikes, each flower pink or white in colour, 2.5–3 mm (0.098–0.118 in) long, and broad. Spearmint flowers in the summer (from July to September in the northern hemisphere), and has relatively large seeds, which measure 0.62–0.90 mm (0.024–0.035 in). The name 'spear' mint derives from the pointed leaf tips.
Mentha spicata varies considerably in leaf blade dimensions, the prominence of leaf veins, and pubescence.
Mentha spicata was first described scientifically by Carl Linnaeus in 1753. The epithet spicata means 'bearing a spike'. The species has two accepted subspecies, each of which has acquired a large number of synonyms:
- Mentha spicata subsp. condensata (Briq.) Greuter & Burdet – eastern Mediterranean, from Italy to Egypt
- Mentha spicata subsp. spicata – distribution as for the species as a whole
Origin and hybridsEdit
The plant is a tetraploid species (2n = 48), which could be a result of hybridization and chromosome doubling. Mentha longifolia and Mentha suaveolens (2n = 24) are likely to be the contributing diploid species.
History and domesticationEdit
Mention of spearmint dates back to at least the 1st century AD, with references from naturalist Pliny and mentions in the Bible. Further records show descriptions of mint in ancient mythology. Findings of early versions of toothpaste using mint in the 14th century suggest widespread domestication by this point. It was introduced into England through the Romans by the 5th century, and the “Father of British Botany”, of the surname Turner, mentions mint as being good for the stomach. John Gerard's Herbal (1597) states that: "It is good against watering eyes and all manner of break outs on the head and sores. It is applied with salt to the biting of mad dogs," and that "They lay it on the stinging of wasps and bees with good success." He also mentions that "the smell rejoice the heart of man", for which cause they used to strew it in chambers and places of recreation, pleasure and repose, where feasts and banquets are made."
Spearmint is documented as being an important cash crop in Connecticut during the period of the American Revolution, at which time mint teas were noted as being a popular drink due to them not being taxed.
Spearmint can readily adapt to grow in various types of soil. Spearmint tends to thrive with plenty of organic material in full sun to part shade. The plant is also known to be found in moist habitats such as swamps or creeks, where the soil is sand or clay.
Diseases and pestsEdit
Fungal diseases are common diseases in spearmint. Two main diseases are rust and leaf spot. Puccinia menthae is a fungus that causes the disease called “rust”. Rust affects the leaves of spearmint by producing pustules inducing the leaves to fall off. Leaf spot is a fungal disease that occurs when Alternaria alernata is present on the spearmint leaves. The infection looks like circular dark spot on the top side of the leaf. Other fungi that cause disease in spearmint are Rhizoctonia solani, Verticillium dahliae, Phoma strasseri, and Erysiphe cischoracearum.
Some nematode diseases in spearmint include root knot and root lesions. Nematode species that cause root knots in this plant are various Meloidogyne species. The other nematode species are Pratylenchus which cause root lesions.
Viral and phytoplasmal diseasesEdit
Spearmint can be infected by tobacco ringspot virus. This virus can lead to stunted plant growth and deformation of the leaves in this plant. In China, spearmint have been seen with mosaic symptoms and deformed leaves. This is an indication that the plant can also be infected by the viruses, cucumber mosaic and tomato aspermy.
Spearmint grows well in nearly all temperate climates. Gardeners often grow it in pots or planters due to its invasive, spreading rhizomes.
Spearmint leaves can be used fresh, dried, or frozen. They can also be preserved in salt, sugar, sugar syrup, alcohol, or oil. The leaves lose their aromatic appeal after the plant flowers. It can be dried by cutting just before, or right (at peak) as the flowers open, about one-half to three-quarters the way down the stalk (leaving smaller shoots room to grow). Some dispute exists as to what drying method works best; some prefer different materials (such as plastic or cloth) and different lighting conditions (such as darkness or sunlight).
Spearmint is used for its aromatic oil, called oil of spearmint. The most abundant compound in spearmint oil is R-(–)-carvone, which gives spearmint its distinctive smell. Spearmint oil also contains significant amounts of limonene, dihydrocarvone, and 1,8-cineol. Unlike oil of peppermint, oil of spearmint contains minimal amounts of menthol and menthone. It is used as a flavoring for toothpaste and confectionery, and is sometimes added to shampoos and soaps.
Research and health effects of spearmint oilEdit
Spearmint has been used traditionally as medicines for minor ailments such as fevers, and digestive disorders. There is research on spearmint extracts in the treatment of gout and as an antiemetic.
Spearmint oil used as insecticide and pesticideEdit
Spearmint essential oil has had success as a larvicide against mosquitoes. Using spearmint as a larvicide would be a greener alternative to synthetic insecticides due to their toxicity and negative affect to the environment.
The main chemical component of spearmint is the terpenoid carvone, which has been shown to aid in the inhibition of tumors. Perillyl alcohol, an additional terpenoid found in lower concentrations in spearmint, positively effects the regulation of various cell substances involved in cell growth and differentiation.
Studies on spearmint have shown varying results on the antioxidant effects of the plant and its extracts. Results have ranged from spearmint essential oil displaying considerable free radical scavenging activity to no antioxidant activity in spearmint essential oil, but strong activity in spearmint methanolic extract. Antioxidant activity has been shown to be significantly higher in spearmint that is dried at lower temperatures rather than high. It is suggested this is due to the degradation of phenolics at high temperatures. In experiments demonstrating antioxidant properties in spearmint oil, the major component, carvone, alone showed lower antioxidant activity.
Spearmint has been historically used for its antimicrobial activity, which is likely due to the high concentration of carvone. Its in vitro antibacterial activity has been compared to, and is even said to surpass, that of amoxicillin, penicillin, and streptomycin. Spearmint oil is found to have higher activity against Gram-positive bacteria compared to Gram-negative bacteria, which may be due to differing sensitivities to oils. The degree of antimicrobial activity varies with the type of microorganism tested.
Studies have found significant antiandrogen effects in spearmint, specifically following routine spearmint herbal tea ingestion. Antispasmodic effects have been displayed in spearmint oil and carvone, the main chemical component of spearmint.
Spearmint leaves are infused in water to make spearmint tea. Spearmint is an ingredient of Maghrebi mint tea. Grown in the mountainous regions of Morocco, this variety of mint possesses a clear, pungent, but mild aroma. Spearmint is an ingredient in several mixed drinks, such as the mojito and mint julep. Sweet tea, iced and flavored with spearmint, is a summer tradition in the Southern United States.
- "Mentha spicata L.". Plants of the World Online. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Retrieved 2019-07-14.
- "Mentha L." Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. 2004-09-10. Archived from the original on 2009-05-06. Retrieved 2010-01-30.
- "Mentha spicata subsp. condensata (Briq.) Greuter & Burdet". Plants of the World Online. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Retrieved 2019-07-14.
- "Mentha spicata subsp. spicata". Plants of the World Online. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Retrieved 2019-07-14.
- Seidemann, Johannes (2005). World Spice Plants: Economic Usage, Botany, Taxonomy. New York: Springer. p. 229. ISBN 978-3-540-22279-8.
- "Mentha spicata, spearmint". RHS Gardening. Royal Horticultural Society.
- "World Checklist of Selected Plant Families: Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew". kew.org.
- "Flora of China Vol. 17 Page 238 留兰香 liu lan xiang Mentha spicata Linnaeus, Sp. Pl. 2: 576. 1753". Efloras.org. Retrieved 2018-08-16.
- Huxley, A., ed. (1992). New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. Macmillan ISBN 0-333-47494-5.[page needed]
- Vokou, D.; Kokkini, S. (1989-04-01). "Mentha spicata (Lamiaceae) chemotypes growing wild in Greece". Economic Botany. 43 (2): 192–202. doi:10.1007/BF02859860. ISSN 1874-9364.
- Turner, W. (1568). Herbal. Cited in the Oxford English Dictionary.
- "Mentha spicata (spearmint): Go Botany". gobotany.nativeplanttrust.org. Retrieved 2018-12-10.
- Stearn, W.T. (2004). Botanical Latin (4th (p/b) ed.). Portland, Oregon: Timber Press. ISBN 978-0-7153-1643-6. p. 499.
- Harley, R. M. (1972). "Mentha". Flora Europaea. 3.
- 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.
- "Spearmint | Encyclopedia.com". www.encyclopedia.com. Retrieved 2018-12-10.
- "Mint". Our Herb Garden. 2013-03-02. Retrieved 2018-12-10.
- Grieve, Maud (1971). A Modern Herbal: The Medicinal, Culinary, Cosmetic and Economic Properties, Cultivation and Folk-lore of Herbs, Grasses, Fungi, Shrubs, & Trees with All Their Modern Scientific Uses, Volume 2.
- Cao, L.; Berent, L.; Sturtevant, R. (2014-07-01). "Mentha spicata L." U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL, and NOAA Great Lakes Aquatic Nonindigenous Species Information System, Ann Arbor, MI. Retrieved 2018-12-04.
- "Mint growing". www.dpi.nsw.gov.au. 2007-10-23. Retrieved 2018-12-05.
- Kalra, A.; Singh, H. B.; Pandey, R.; Samad, A.; Patra, N. K.; Kumar, Sushil (2005). "Diseases in Mint: Causal Organisms, Distribution, and Control Measures". Journal of Herbs, Spices & Medicinal Plants. 11 (1–2): 71–91. doi:10.1300/J044v11n01_03.
- Hussain, Abdullah I.; Anwar, Farooq; Nigam, Poonam S.; Ashraf, Muhammad; Gilani, Anwarul H. (2010). "Seasonal variation in content, chemical composition and antimicrobial and cytotoxic activities of essential oils from four Mentha species". Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture. 90 (11): 1827–1836. doi:10.1002/jsfa.4021. PMID 20602517.
- Tayarani-Najaran, Z.; Talasaz-Firoozi, E.; Nasiri, R.; Jalali, N.; Hassanzadeh, M. K. (2013-01-31). "Antiemetic activity of volatile oil from Mentha spicata and Mentha × piperita in chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting". Ecancermedicalscience. 7: 290. doi:10.3332/ecancer.2013.290. PMC 3562057. PMID 23390455. Retrieved 2018-12-05.
- Yogalakshmi, K.; Rajeswari, M.; Sivakumar, R.; Govindarajan, M. (2012-05-01). "Chemical composition and larvicidal activity of essential oil from Mentha spicata (Linn.) against three mosquito species". Parasitology Research. 110 (5): 2023–2032. doi:10.1007/s00436-011-2731-7. ISSN 1432-1955. PMID 22139403.
- Eliopoulos, P. A.; Hassiotis, C. N.; Andreadis, S. S.; Porichi, A. E. (2015). "Fumigant toxicity of essential oils from basil and spearmint against two major Pyralid pests of stored products". Journal of Economic Entomology. 108 (2): 805–810. doi:10.1093/jee/tov029. PMID 26470193.
- Zheljazkov, Valtcho D.; Cantrell, Charles L.; Astatkie, Tess; Ebelhar, M. Wayne (2010). "Productivity, Oil Content, and Composition of Two Spearmint Species in Mississippi". Agronomy Journal. 102 (1): 129. doi:10.2134/agronj2009.0258. ISSN 1435-0645.
- Hussain, Abdullah I.; Anwar, Farooq; Shahid, Muhammad; Ashraf, Muhammad (September 2008). "Chemical Composition, and Antioxidant and Antimicrobial Activities of Essential Oil of Spearmint (Mentha spicata L.) From Pakistan". Journal of Essential Oil Research. 22 (1): 78–84. doi:10.1080/10412905.2010.9700269. ISSN 1041-2905.
- Craig, Winston J. (1999-09-01). "Health-promoting properties of common herbs". The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 70 (3): 491s–499s. doi:10.1093/ajcn/70.3.491s. ISSN 0002-9165. PMID 10479221.
- Pan, Li (2010-03-12). "The continuing search for antitumor agents from higher plants". Phytochemistry Letters. 3 (1): 1–8. doi:10.1016/j.phytol.2009.11.005. ISSN 1874-3900. PMC 2836022. PMID 20228943.
- Scherer, Rodrigo (2013-10-01). "Antioxidant and antibacterial activities and composition of Brazilian spearmint (Mentha spicata L.)". Industrial Crops and Products. 50: 408–413. doi:10.1016/j.indcrop.2013.07.007. ISSN 0926-6690.
- Gekas, Vassilis; Goulas, Vlasios; Orphanides, Antia (2013-09-23). "Effect of drying method on the phenolic content and antioxidant capacity of spearmint". Cite journal requires
- Fletcher, Ronald S.; Slimmon, Tannis; McAuley, Colette Y.; Kott, Laima S. (2005-11-01). "Heat stress reduces the accumulation of rosmarinic acid and the total antioxidant capacity in spearmint (Mentha spicata L.)". Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture. 85 (14): 2429–2436. doi:10.1002/jsfa.2270. ISSN 1097-0010.
- Griensven, Leo J. L. D. van; Soković, Marina (2006-11-01). "Antimicrobial activity of essential oils and their components against the three major pathogens of the cultivated button mushroom, Agaricus bisporus". European Journal of Plant Pathology. 116 (3): 211–224. doi:10.1007/s10658-006-9053-0. ISSN 1573-8469.
- Gullace, M. (2007-01-01). "Antimicrobial and antioxidant properties of the essential oils and methanol extract from Mentha longifolia L. ssp. longifolia". Food Chemistry. 103 (4): 1449–1456. doi:10.1016/j.foodchem.2006.10.061. ISSN 0308-8146.
- Sivropoulou, Afroditi; Kokkini, Stella; Lanaras, Thomas; Arsenakis, Minas (1995-09-01). "Antimicrobial activity of mint essential oils". Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 43 (9): 2384–2388. doi:10.1021/jf00057a013. ISSN 0021-8561.
- Grant, Paul (February 2010). "Spearmint herbal tea has significant anti-androgen effects in polycystic ovarian syndrome. A randomized controlled trial". Phytotherapy Research. 24 (2): 186–188. doi:10.1002/ptr.2900. ISSN 1099-1573. PMID 19585478.
- Grant, Paul; Ramasamy, Shamin (2012). "An Update on Plant Derived Anti-Androgens". International Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism. 10 (2): 497–502. doi:10.5812/ijem.3644. ISSN 1726-913X. PMC 3693613. PMID 23843810.
- Souza, Fábia Valéria M.; da Rocha, Marcelly Barbosa; de Souza, Damião P.; Marçal, Rosilene Moretti (March 2013). "(−)-Carvone: antispasmodic effect and mode of action". Fitoterapia. 85: 20–24. doi:10.1016/j.fitote.2012.10.012. ISSN 1873-6971. PMID 23103297.
- Richardson, Lisa Boalt (2014). Modern Tea: A Fresh Look at an Ancient Beverage. San Francisco: Chronicle Books. p. 104. ISBN 978-1-4521-3021-7.