Botanical Name: Mentha piperita
Common Names: Peppermint, Wild Mint, Menthol
Mentha piperita ( a cross between watermint and spearmint) is an erect growing perrenial plant that quickly spreads by the means of rhizomes, this plant likes damp conditions and can more often than not be found close to creeks and in some cases can grow to around 1m in height.
The leaves are dark green and almost egg shaped to elliptic in their appearence and between, 1.5cm-9 cm long and 1cm-3cm wide. The leaf margins are toothed and opposite each other and have quite distinctive deep veins. The definate tell tale is when the leaves are bruised or crushed they emit a strong mint/menthol smell.
The stem can grow between 50cm-1m tall. The branches often have a tinge of purple and are generally hairless in appearance.
The flowers grow in dense Inflorescence terminal clusters or whorls, are purple in colour and about 1cm long and 0.5cm wide.
No real fruit or seed are produced
The leaves can be eaten raw or cooked and has a very strong mint flavour. An oil can be extracted and makes a very good flavouring for lollies, ice cream and even cakes. The leaves can be dried, stored and used as herb or made into a refreshing hot or cold tea.
There are many medicinal uses for wild mint.
A tea can made from the leaves and has traditionally been used in the treatment of fevers, headaches, digestive disorders, it is also an antiseptic, antispasmodic, carminative, cholagogue, diaphoretic, refrigerant and vasodilator. An infusion can be used in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome. The mint can be applied externally to the skin to relieve pain and reduce sensitivity.. The essential oil in the leaves is antiseptic and strongly antibacterial, though it is toxic in large doses and not recommended for use by pregnant women. When diluted it can be used as an inhalant and chest rub for respiratory infections.