Mentha spicata L. - Spearmint

Mentha spicata plant

Family - Lamiaceae

Stems - To .75m tall, glabrous, 4-angled, from creeping rhizomes.

Leaves - Opposite, sessile or on very short petioles, ovate to ovate-lanceolate, toothed, to +7cm long, 3cm wide, glabrous above, glabrous or very sparsely pubescent below, very fragrant.

Inflorescence - Terminal spike of floral whorls (verticillasters). Bracts accompanying clusters linear, not longer than clusters.

Flowers - Corolla white to light lavender (lilac), 2-3mm long, 4-lobed, regular. Calyx 1.5-2mm long, 5-lobed, pubescent.

Flowering - June - October.

Habitat - Moist to wet ground.

Origin - Native to Europe.

Other info. - This is the familiar "Spearmint" used to flavor teas, candies, and other products. The leaves give off the very distinctive scent when crushed.
The plant is a vigorous grower and is cultivated worldwide. It can be easily grown by the home gardener if moist soil is provided.

Photograph taken at the Kansas City Zoo, 9-2-99.


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