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Mentha x piperita vulgaris - L.                
                 
Common Name Black Peppermint
Family Lamiaceae or Labiatae
Synonyms
Known Hazards In large quantities this plant, especially in the form of the extracted essential oil, can cause abortions so should not be used by pregnant women.
Habitats A natural hybrid, M. aquatica x M. spicata, found in moist soils in ditches, waste places etc[9].
Range Britain.
Edibility Rating  
Medicinal Rating  
Care
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun

Summary       

Physical Characteristics       
 icon of manicon of flower
Mentha x piperita vulgaris is a PERENNIAL growing to 0.5 m (1ft 8in) by 1 m (3ft 3in).
It is hardy to zone 3 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from Aug to October. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.It is noted for attracting wildlife.


USDA hardiness zone : Coming soon


Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and can grow in heavy clay soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

Mentha x piperita vulgaris Black Peppermint


Mentha x piperita vulgaris Black Peppermint
   
Habitats       
Woodland Garden Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade; Cultivated Beds;
Edible Uses                                         
Edible Parts: Leaves.
Edible Uses: Condiment;  Tea.

Leaves - raw or cooked. A strong peppermint flavour, they are used as a flavouring in salads or cooked foods[2, 27, 105]. This plant should not be used by pregnant women, see the notes above on toxicity. An essential oil from the leaves and flowers is used as a flavouring in sweets, chewing gum, ice cream etc[183]. A herb tea is made from the fresh or dried leaves[21, 183].
Medicinal Uses


Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Abortifacient;  Anodyne;  Antiseptic;  Antispasmodic;  Aromatherapy;  Carminative;  Cholagogue;  Diaphoretic;  Refrigerant;  Stomachic;  Tonic;  
Vasodilator.

Black peppermint is a very important and commonly used herbal remedy, being employed by allopathic doctors as well as herbalists[9]. It is also widely used as a domestic remedy. This cultivar is considered to be stronger acting than white peppermint (Mentha x piperita officinalis). A tea made from the leaves has traditionally been used in the treatment of fevers, headaches, digestive disorders (especially flatulence) and various minor ailments[222, 238]. The herb is abortifacient, anodyne, antiseptic, antispasmodic, carminative, cholagogue, diaphoretic, refrigerant, stomachic, tonic and vasodilator[4, 9, 21, 165, 238]. An infusion is used in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome, digestive problems, spastic colon etc[254]. Externally a lotion is applied to the skin to relieve pain and reduce sensitivity[254]. The leaves and stems can be used fresh or dried, they are harvested for drying in August as the flowers start to open[4]. The essential oil in the leaves is antiseptic and strongly antibacterial, though it is toxic in large doses[222, 254]. When diluted it can be used as an inhalant and chest rub for respiratory infections[254]. The essential oil is used in aromatherapy. Its keyword is 'Cooling'[210].
Other Uses
Essential;  Repellent;  Strewing.

An essential oil is obtained from the whole plant. It is used medicinally and as a food flavouring[2, 46, 57].. It is also an ingredient of oral hygiene preparations, toiletries etc[238]. Peppermint leaves are used as an ingredient of pot-pourri[238]. They were formerly used as a strewing herb[14]. The plant repels insects, rats etc[14, 18, 20]. Rats and mice intensely dislike the smell of mint. The plant was therefore used in homes as a strewing herb and has also been spread in granaries to keep the rodents off the grain[244].
Cultivation details                                         
Succeeds in most soils and situations so long as the soil is not too dry[1, 200]. Grows well in heavy clay soils. A sunny position is best for the production of essential oils, but plants also succeed in partial shade. Prefers a slightly acid soil[16]. A commonly grown herb[4], it is often cultivated commercially for its essential oil[61]. This is the black form of peppermint and it is said to produce a superior essential oil, making it the preferred choice as a food flavouring and for medicinal purposes. The oil is of better quality when the plant is grown on dry soils[115]. Most mints have fairly aggressive spreading roots and, unless you have the space to let them roam, they need to be restrained by some means such as planting them in containers that are buried in the soil[K]. Hybridizes freely with other members of this genus. The flowers are very attractive to bees and butterflies[24]. A good companion for growing near cabbages and tomatoes, helping to keep them free of insect pests[20]. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer[233].
                                                                                 
Propagation                                         
Seed - sow spring in a cold frame. Germination is usually fairly quick. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and plant them out in the summer. Mentha species are very prone to hybridisation and so the seed cannot be relied on to breed true. Even without hybridisation, seedlings will not be uniform and so the content of medicinal oils etc will vary. When growing plants with a particular aroma it is best to propagate them by division[K]. Division can be easily carried out at almost any time of the year, though it is probably best done in the spring or autumn to allow the plant to establish more quickly. Virtually any part of the root is capable of growing into a new plant. Larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. However, for maximum increase it is possible to divide the roots up into sections no more than 3cm long and pot these up in light shade in a cold frame. They will quickly become established and can be planted out in the summer.
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Expert comment                                         
 
      
Author                                         
L.
                                                                                 
Botanical References                                         
200
                                                                                 
Links / References                                         

  [K] Ken Fern Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.

[1]F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956
Comprehensive listing of species and how to grow them. Somewhat outdated, it has been replaces in 1992 by a new dictionary (see [200]).
[2]Hedrick. U. P. Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World.
Lots of entries, quite a lot of information in most entries and references.
[4]Grieve. A Modern Herbal.
Not so modern (1930's?) but lots of information, mainly temperate plants.
[9]Launert. E. Edible and Medicinal Plants.
Covers plants in Europe. a drawing of each plant, quite a bit of interesting information.
[14]Holtom. J. and Hylton. W. Complete Guide to Herbs.
A good herbal.
[16]Simons. New Vegetable Growers Handbook.
A good guide to growing vegetables in temperate areas, not entirely organic.
[18]Philbrick H. and Gregg R. B. Companion Plants.
Details of beneficial and antagonistic relationships between neighbouring plants.
[20]Riotte. L. Companion Planting for Successful Gardening.
Fairly good.
[21]Lust. J. The Herb Book.
Lots of information tightly crammed into a fairly small book.
[24]Baines. C. Making a Wildlife Garden.
Fairly good with lots of ideas about creating wildlife areas in the garden.
[27]Vilmorin. A. The Vegetable Garden.
A reprint of a nineteenth century classic, giving details of vegetable varieties. Not really that informative though.
[46]Uphof. J. C. Th. Dictionary of Economic Plants.
An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader.
[57]Schery. R. W. Plants for Man.
Fairly readable but not very comprehensive. Deals with plants from around the world.
[61]Usher. G. A Dictionary of Plants Used by Man.
Forget the sexist title, this is one of the best books on the subject. Lists a very extensive range of useful plants from around the world with very brief details of the uses. Not for the casual reader.
[105]Tanaka. T. Tanaka's Cyclopaedia of Edible Plants of the World.
The most comprehensive guide to edible plants I've come across. Only the briefest entry for each species, though, and some of the entries are more than a little dubious. Not for the casual reader.
[115]Johnson. C. P. The Useful Plants of Great Britain.
Written about a hundred years ago, but still a very good guide to the useful plants of Britain.
[165]Mills. S. Y. The Dictionary of Modern Herbalism.
An excellent small herbal.
[183]Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants.
Excellent. Contains a very wide range of conventional and unconventional food plants (including tropical) and where they can be obtained (mainly N. American nurseries but also research institutes and a lot of other nurseries from around the world.
[200]Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
[210]Westwood. C. Aromatherapy - A guide for home use.
An excellent little pocket guide. Very concise.
[222]Foster. S. & Duke. J. A. A Field Guide to Medicinal Plants. Eastern and Central N. America.
A concise book dealing with almost 500 species. A line drawing of each plant is included plus colour photographs of about 100 species. Very good as a field guide, it only gives brief details about the plants medicinal properties.
[233]Thomas. G. S. Perennial Garden Plants
A concise guide to a wide range of perennials. Lots of cultivation guides, very little on plant uses.
[238]Bown. D. Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses.
A very well presented and informative book on herbs from around the globe. Plenty in it for both the casual reader and the serious student. Just one main quibble is the silly way of having two separate entries for each plant.
[244]Phillips. R. & Foy. N. Herbs
Deals with all types of herbs including medicinal, culinary, scented and dye plants. Excellent photographs with quite good information on each plant.
[254]Chevallier. A. The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants
An excellent guide to over 500 of the more well known medicinal herbs from around the world.

Readers comment                                         
 
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