Mentha .information on mint plants
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Classification of mints


Mints are the plants that are botanically classified together within the genus Mentha. Many of them have culinary and medicinal qualities, to varying degrees. The spearmint taste in toothpaste, mint sauce or chewing gum, and peppermint taste of indigestion tablets or after dinner mints, are common place these days. But there are many other variations in scent and taste, some quite interesting, although unlikely to be preferred by most people to those already well known forms. Some differences are quite subtle, and may only be of interest to the real enthusiast. A few smell, to be honest, revolting - I haven't got around to tasted these myself. To the gardener, and especially the herb gardener, the different leaf & flower shapes & colour may lead to further exploration, if the fear of their garden being over-whelmed by mint can be overcome.

Mints are related to sages, rosmaries, marjorams basils and thymes, all belonging to the botanical classified family, Lamiaceae (previously known as Labiatae). You will occasionally see all the plants classified within the Lamiaceae family described as "mints" or in the mint family, especially in American sources  - this is confusing and unnecessary. To the ordinary gardener the difference in the Botanical terms family and genus may not be appreciated or even known. "The mint family" to me is implying something which is not really true, whereas "the mint genus" really means the group of plants that are really all mints. To me saying that a rosemary is a mint is actually missing the point of classification rules, but I think it is likely to continue to be done, so always check, if you can, for the genus name Mentha to find the "proper" mints. 

You will sometimes see the word mint used as part of a common or descriptive name, but this does not necessarily mean they are mints. Korean mint is Korean mint, Vietnamese mint is Vietnamese mint, mint bush is mint bush, but none of them are mints. Their names are used to draw attention to their similarity to mint in scent, not to their similarity in taxonomy, botanical classification of giving a name in common to plants similar in flower structure, and in some genera other structural aspects. If you are new to mints you will just have to try and find the botanical name on the list of label to see if the word "Mentha" is there. Moroccan mint would be down as Mentha spicata 'Moroccan', so is a mint. Emperor's mint should be down as Micromeria sp., so is not a mint, it just smells a bit like one.

To find out about the name of your mint plant go to the names page.


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