FR: Menthe GER: Minze IT: Menta
SP: Hierbabuenas, Mentas BOT: species of Mentha FAM: Labiatae
There are many species of mint, mostly native to the temperate regions of the Old World, particularly the Mediterranean area and western Asia.
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The classification of the mints is difficult because the species easily cross and hybridize. This leads to great confusion – even the well-known peppermint is a hybrid and not a distinct species. Mints also vary in flavour according to the soils and climates in which they are grown.
The wild British mints are as follows:
FR: Menthe aquatique GER: Wasserminze IT: Menta d’acqua SP: Hierbabuena acuatica BOT: Mentha aquatica water mint. This is probably the most common wild mint. It likes very wet places. The flavour is too rank for cooking. Crossed with spearmint it gave rise to peppermint, which can also be found wild in many places.
Corn or Field Mint FR: Baume des champs GER: Ackerminze IT: Mentastro SP: Menta arvense BOT: Mentha arvensis
Corn or field mint. This is also a common mint but grows in dryer conditions, in cornfields and hedges. Crossed with water mint it gives rise to what is called ‘whorled’ mint. Neither of these is of importance in cooking.
BOT: Mentha longifolia horse mint. This mint is rather local in Britain. It is supposed to be the mint mentioned in the Bible and is cultivated in the East. Round-Leaved Mint FR: Menthe rotundifuliee GER: Rundblatterige Minze IT: Menta selvatica SP: Matapulgas BOT: Mentha rotundifolia round-leaved mint. Wild, this mint is also local in Britain. Well-known cultivated varieties are apple mint, Bowles mint and pineapple mint. These are amongst the best of all culinary mints.
FR: Baume vert, Menthe verte GER: Grune Minze IT: Mentastro verde
SP: Hierbabuena punitaguda, Menta verde BOT: Mentha spicata (Mentha viridis)
ILL: Plate 15, No. 2 spearmint. Native to the Mediterranean, this is a common escape in Britain. It was probably introduced by the Romans. This is the commonest garden mint and the common commercial mint, but there are many varieties differing in colour of leaf and stem, hairiness, leaf shape and flavour. There are also decorative and curly-leaved types.