Corn Mint

Corn Mint

This genus consists of 25 often variable species of aromatic perennials and a few annuals, occuring in temperate regions of Europe, Asia, and Africa. Most flower from summer to early autumn. Mints of various kinds have a place in every garden. The bright green Mentha spicata has been the indispensible culinary mint since the Roman times. Variegated mints can be grown in a border, provided that they have dense or vigorous neighbors. Mentha aquatica and M cervina thrive besides pools, and in boggy areas. In the Middle Ages, M. aquatica was known as menastrum, and used for strewing floors. The small-growing but strongly scented M. diemenica, M. pulegium, and M. requienii will grow between paving stones and at the edge of paths. The mints are a complex group, involving hybridization in both the wild and cultivation, which makes individual plants often difficult to identify. A few species, such as M. pulegium and M. requienii, do not hybridize with other mints. All mints are rich in volatile oils of variable composition. It is menthol is an antiseptic, decongestant, analgesic compound that predominates in M. arvensis var. piperascens (Japanese mint) and M. x piperita (peppermint); it is also mildly anesthetic, giving the cooling, numbing sensation experienced when smelling or tasting peppermint. The anesthetic effect overwhelms more subtle flavors, which is why peppermint is best used with sweet foods, such as chocolate, ice cream, and candy. Japanese mint yields 75 percent menthol and is the main commercial source of menthol. Spearmint and peppermint are among the world's most popular flavorings, and crops for leaf oil production are grown on a large scale in Europe, USA, the Middle East, Brazil, Paraguay, Japan, and China. Less pleasant in aroma in pulegone, a toxic compound notorious for causing abortion, which is present in the oils of both. M. pulegium and Hedeoma pulegioides (See, American Pennyroyal). The Australian M. diemenica, due to its pulegone content, has been used as a substitute for M. pulegium, and M. longifolia contains the diuretic diosphenol, which predominates in Agothosma species (See, Oval-leaf Buchu). Fruit-scented mints owe their aroma to a higher concentration of limonene. Some mints, notable M. spicata, have high concentrations of carvone, a compund that characterizes the aroma of Carum carvi, (See, caraway). Various other kinds of plants are mint-scentedm such as species from the genera Eucalyptus (See, Eucalyptus), Micromeria (See, Thyme-Leafed Savory), Monardella prostanthera (See, Round-Leaved Mint Bush), Pycnanthemum (See, Virginia Mountain Mint) and Satureja, (See, Summer Savory).

Variable, hairy annual or perennial with white rhizomes below the surface and ovate-lanceolate, toothed leaves, to 6cm (2½in) long, that have a rather acrid smell. Lilac to pink flowers are borne in whorls with no terminal head.

Common Name:
Corn Mint
Other Names:
Field Mint
Botanical Name:
Mentha arvensis syn. M. austriaca.
Europe, N Asia, and the Himalayas to Japan
Rich, moist soil in sun or partial shade. Mentha aquatica thrives in wet soil and M. arvensis tolerates dry conditions. Mentha pulegium prefers damn, sandy, acid soil; M. requienii needs moist shady conditions. Foliage may damaged by mildew and rust, though M. x villosa var. alopecuroides is resistant to rust. Most mints are invasive and are best grown in confined space. Mentha pulegium is a protected species in parts of Europe, and subject to statuatory control as a weed in some countries, notably in parts of Australia.
By seed sown in spring (M. pulegium, M. requienii, M. satureioides only); by division in spring or autumn; by tip cuttings during the growing season, placed in moist soil mix or water (not M. requienii). Mentha requienii usually self sown self-sows.
Whole plants are cut as flowering begins, and leaves are cut during the growing season, and used fresh or dried for use in concentrated waters, infusions, liquid extracts, powders, spirits, or oil distillation. Mentha arvensis is mainly decocted or powdered in Chinese remedies.
10-60cm (4-24in)
Is a French cultivar with a banana aroma
Subsp. haplocalyx
syn. M. haplocalyx
(Chinese Mint)

Has a sweet scent, likened to heliotrope.
var. piperescens
(Japanese Mint, Hakka)

Has ovate, gland-dotted leaves with a strong peppermint scent:
var. Villosa
syn. M. canadensis
(American Mint)

Has lanceolate, hairy leaves, pink or white flowers; a pleasant aroma.
Height: 20-50cm (8-20in)
Width: Indefinite
Parts Used:
Whole plant,(bo he), leaves, oil.
A pungently aromatic, stimulant, anti-bacterial herb that benefits the digestion, relaxes spasms, reduces inflammation, and increases perspiration rate. It also relieves pain and itching, and suppresses lactation. According to Chinese medicine, it acts mainly on the lung and liver energies.
Medicinal Uses:
Internally for colds, sore throat, headaches, measles, and indigestion; for nausea (var. villosa) by native N Americans. Externally for skin irritations. Combine with Chrysanthemum x morifolium (See, Florist's Chrysanthemum) and Schizonepeta tenuifolia in a powder for sore throat, blown down the throat through a tube. May reduce milk flow if taken when breast-feeding
Culinary Uses:
Leaves used for flavoring and tea; traditionally used to prevent milk curdling.
Economic Uses:
Source of Japanese mint oil (var. piperescens), used as a substitute for, or adulterant of, peppermint oil.
Encylopedia of Herbs by Deni Brown Copyright ©: 1995, 2001 Dorling Kindersley Limited pp.275-276