SCIENTIFIC NAME: Mentha
COMMON NAME(S): Mint, Peppermint, Spearmint, Pennyroyal, Horsemint
FAMILY: LAMIACEAE (LABIATAE) - Mint family
ORIGIN: Eurasia, Africa, about 25 spp.
HABITAT: Roadsides, disturbed areas, ditches, streambanks
HEIGHT: Usually under 3'
CHARACTERISTICS: Often creeping, usually square in cross-section
LEAVES: Opposite, simple, aromatic, usually elliptic or oval-shaped, hairy, toothed along margins
FLOWERS: Small, purple, pink or white in spike-like clusters; tubular or bell-shaped, sometimes 2-lipped
FLOWERING SEASON: Summer
ALLERGENIC PRINCIPLES: Volatile oils (terpenes)
ALLERGENIC PROPERTIES: Dermatological
COMMENTS: The terpene oils responsible for the various aromas of mint species can also cause contact dermatitis in sensitive individuals. M. spicata L. (Spearmint) is widely naturalized in the eastern United States, usually in moist places. Peppermint (M. x piperita L.., a hybrid of M. spicata and M. aquatica) also occasionally escapes from cultivation.