Aromatic plants

Mint plant

History and origin of the mint plant

Mint is a plant of the genus ‘mentha’ which belongs to the Lamiaceae family. It is a perennial aromatic plant that grows mainly in Europe, Africa and Asia. Already known in ancient times by Romans and Egyptians, it was used especially as a medicinal and medicinal plant for its refreshing, antiseptic and diuretic effect. Mint seems to originate from the European continent where it began to be cultivated in the mid-eighteenth century in England. From here the cultivation then spread to Asia and the Americas while it is not very present in countries with a tropical climate. In nature we find many varieties of mintand today the plant is renowned for the production of perfumed essential oils. It is also used in the kitchen to prepare syrups, candies, sweets and to flavor decoctions, herbal teas and ointments.

Composition of the mint plant

Mint is a herbaceous plant that can reach a height ranging from a few centimeters to over a meter. Its woody stem reaches an average of 30 cm in most varieties existing in nature and has a color between green and light purple. The twigs of the plant are not very long while the leaves are simple and of a nice light green. Slightly hairy on the surface, the leaves then contain small glands that produce the characteristic mint oil and give an excellent fragrance. The flowers, on the other hand, are small, spike-shaped and can be purple, white or pink. On the mint plant we also find very small fruits scattered, each of which contains up to a maximum of four seeds.

We can find at least thirty different species of mint, plus various hybrids. Generally the most popular type of mint is ‘peppermint’, a hybrid of two different varieties. The plant has green leaves, a purple-tinged stem, purple flowers and we can also appreciate two variants: black, wild mint with reddish and brown flowers and white mint, recognizable by white flowers. The ‘mentha aquatica’ is another specimen so called as it usually grows in moist soils. Other important kinds of mint are also the ‘arvensis’, the ‘citrata’, the ‘rotundifolia’ and the ‘spicata’, the latter also known as Roman mint. The ‘pulegium’ instead is a dwarf form of mint with spherical flowers and in Lazio it is often mistakenly called ‘mint’.

Mint plant: How to grow mint

To grow mint it is good to know that the plant adapts to virtually any climate and almost any altitude. In particular, it prefers dry and hot summers and winters that are not too rigid. It can grow perfectly both in very sunny places and in more shady areas. Obviously, greater exposure to the sun will favor the formation of essential oils. Mint can therefore be planted both in pots and in the garden and does not require specific soil. In fact, it will be enough to choose a fertile, neutral and well fertilized soil that will be changed every two or three years as this is a very long-lived plant. To avoid harmful stagnation of water, it will be sufficient to water the mint regularly, especially in the summer and in the absence of rain.

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