Family : Labiatae
Peppermint (Mentha piperita)
is a hairy perennial more commonly used in medicines and confections.
Peppermint has underground stolons
and square pink or red stems of about 90 cm height. The leaves are
red-tinted, oval, pointed, deeply toothed and long-stalked and the
white flowers are on long spikes.
The mints are always propagated from
surface or underground runners, as plants produced from seed are
not uniform. Early in spring the runners should be set in a moist
but not soggy soil, either in beds or in rows. Unless confined by
boards set several inches in the ground the underground runners
will spread in a few seasons to cover several times the area originally
set. No special care is necessary except to keep the bed free of
weeds and grass. As the plants grow rapidly, fresh green sprigs
are available for use as needed from early in spring until late
in fall. The leaves and flowering tops should be cut for drying
when the plants begin to flower.
For culinary use the leaves and
stems are gathered before flowering and in full flower for distillation
of oil. The upper part of the plant may be tied in small bundles
and hung up, or the leaves and flowering tops spread on a screen
and dried in the shade. As soon as the leaves and stems are brittle,
any excess stems should be removed and the clean dry leaves and
flowering tops packed in a closed container.
Medicinal and other use
The leaves of the various species
and varieties impart their pleasing flavours to lamb, peas, cream
of pea soup, tea, and fruit drinks. Essential oil is used to flavour
confectionery, liqueurs and pharmaceutical products, and to scent
cosmetics. It is the most valuable of all mints, with great cooling
properties due to its high content of menthol. It is used to treat
gastric and digestive disorders, and nervous complaints like tension