Mentha

Scientific name

Mentha L.

Common names

water mint (M. aquatica), Hart's pennyroyal (M. cervina)

Family

Lamiaceae

Could be confused with

Pogostemon

Native distribution

temperate Eurasia

Species commonly cultivated

Mentha aquatica L. (Africa, Asia, Europe)

M. cervina L. (northern Africa, Europe)

Adventive distribution

The commonly grown economically important mint species have a worldwide distribution.

Weed status

Mentha pulegium L., a non-aquatic species, is sometimes weedy.

Habit

erect or ascending, creeping stem plant

Brief description

Aromatic perennial, stoloniferous or rhizomatous. Stems creeping, erect or ascending. Leaves opposite; leaf blade entire or serrate (some cultivars wavy). Inflorescence a terminal or axillary spike or cluster. Sepals 5, subequal, fused below; petals fused below into a tube, lobes 4, equal, or adaxial lobe (lip) larger and emarginate and the flower zygomorphic, pink or white. Dispersal vegetative and of fruit (nutlet) sometimes by water.

Natural habitat

Riparian, littoral zone, mostly in shallow areas. Some Mentha species can tolerate extended inundation.

Additional comments

Mentha is widely known for its culinary and other economic uses. The genus consists of nineteen "pure" species, but more than 2000 botanical names cover many different growth forms and cultivars. Mentha aquatica is usually the name given to the plant(s) most commonly offered for sale or grown in the pond garden trade. In some cases, these plants may also be known by a hybrid and/or cultivar name.