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Mentha pulegium - L.

Common Name Pennyroyal
Family Lamiaceae or Labiatae
USDA hardiness 6-9
Known Hazards In large quantities this plant, especially in the form of the extracted essential oil, can cause abortions so it should not be used by pregnant women[165]. Avoid if patient has fits or seizures and those with liver or kidney disease. oral intake may cause abdominal cramps, fever, nausea, vomiting, confusion, delirium, auditory & visual hallucinations [301].
Habitats Moist meadows and sandy soils by streams etc[9, 17].
Range Centraland southern Europe, including Britain, Mediterranean region, Macaronesia.
Edibility Rating  
Other Uses  
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating  
Care
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Mentha pulegium Pennyroyal


Mentha pulegium Pennyroyal

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Summary


Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Mentha pulegium is a PERENNIAL growing to 0.4 m (1ft 4in) by 0.6 m (2ft).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 7 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from Aug to October, and the seeds ripen from Sep to October. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees.It is noted for attracting wildlife.
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.

Synonyms

Melissa pulegium. Mentha albarracinensis. Micromeria fenzlii. Pulegium heterophyllum.

Habitats

 Ground Cover; Meadow;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Leaves.
Edible Uses: Condiment;  Tea.

Leaves - raw or cooked[2, 9, 27]. Used as a flavouring in salads or cooked foods[183]. A spearmint-like flavour, though rather coarser, it is not used very often in Britain[4]. A herb tea is made from the fresh or dried leaves[183]. For drying, it should be harvested as the plant comes into flower[4].

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.

Antiseptic;  Antispasmodic;  Carminative;  Diaphoretic;  Emmenagogue;  Sedative;  Stimulant;  Uterine tonic.


Pennyroyal has been used for centuries in herbal medicine. Its main value is as a digestive tonic where it increases the secretion of digestive juices and relieves flatulence and colic[254]. Pennyroyal also powerfully stimulates the uterine muscles and encourages menstruation, thus it should not be prescribed for pregnant women since it can procure abortions, this is especially the case if the essential oil is used[238, 254]. The herb is antiseptic, antispasmodic, carminative, diaphoretic, emmenagogue, sedative and stimulant[4, 9, 46, 165]. A tea made from the leaves has traditionally been used in the treatment of fevers, headaches, minor respiratory infections, digestive disorders, menstrual complaints and various minor ailments[222, 238, 254]. It is occasionally used as a treatment for intestinal worms[254]. Externally, an infusion is used to treat itchiness and formication, inflamed skin disorders such as eczema and rheumatic conditions such as gout[254]. The leaves are harvested in the summer as the plant comes into flower and are dried for later use[4]. The essential oil in the leaves is antiseptic, though it is toxic in large doses[222].

Other Uses

Cleanser;  Essential;  Pot-pourri;  Repellent;  Strewing.

An essential oil is obtained from the whole plant, used in soap making[46, 61] and as a cleanser for fabrics[169]. A yield of 14kg of oil per hectare is considered good[4]. The plant has a low spreading habit and can be used as a ground cover, though it is somewhat sparse in the winter and can be invaded by the more aggressive weeds[K]. The growing or dried plant repels fleas, ants, moths, mice etc[18, 20, 148, 169, 201, 238]. 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]. A strong infusion applied to the face will keep gnats away in the summer[245]. The aromatic leaves are used as an ingredient of pot-pourri[238].

Cultivation details

Succeeds in most soils and situations so long as the soil is not too dry[200]. Plants are very quickly diminished by dry conditions[4]. Prefers a stiff moist soil that is slightly acid[16, 27, 37, 200]. A sunny position is best for production of essential oils, but plants succeed in partial shade. Pennyroyal is often grown in the herb garden and is also cultivated commercially as a medicinal plant[4, 115]. There are two main forms of this species. One has weak prostrate stems and spreads by rooting where the stems touch the ground, it is only 10cm tall[4]. The other is erect, does not spread so freely and grows about 30cm tall, thus making it easier to harvest[4]. There is also at least one named form, called 'Dwarf' it is only a few centimetres tall[183]. The whole plant a strong spearmint smell. The flowers are very attractive to bees and butterflies[24]. A good companion plant for cabbages and tomatoes[20], helping to repel cabbage root fly and other burrowing insects[201]. 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.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameEdibility RatingMedicinal Rating
Mentha aquaticaWater Mint33
Mentha arvensisCorn Mint, Wild mint32
Mentha arvensis piperascensJapanese Mint32
Mentha arvensis villosaAmerican Wild Mint32
Mentha asiaticaAsian Mint32
Mentha australis 02
Mentha cervinaHart's Pennyroyal32
Mentha cunninghamia 02
Mentha diemenica 22
Mentha longifoliaHorsemint22
Mentha requieniiCorsican Mint, Mint32
Mentha satureioidesNative Pennyroyal22
Mentha species 22
Mentha spicataSpearmint43
Mentha suaveolensRound-Leaved Mint, Apple mint, Pineapple Mint22
Mentha x gracilisGinger Mint32
Mentha x piperita citrataEau De Cologne Mint, Eau de Cologne Mint, Peppermint22
Mentha x piperita officinalisWhite Peppermint35
Mentha x piperita vulgarisBlack Peppermint45
Mentha x smithianaRed Raripila Mint32
Mentha x villosa alopecuroidesApple Mint42

 

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Expert comment

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L.

Botanical References

17200

Links / References

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Readers comment

Shari Yingst   Sat Dec 23 2006

Medline Plus from the National Inst. of Health and Library of Medicine More detailed info on the toxicity of Pennyroyal and its uses.

   Dec 29 2011 12:00AM

Everybody should know that the essential oil of pennyroyal should never be ingested... even small doses can be fatal, I think that this article should stress this more

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