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Toxic parts

Although no records of toxicity have been seen for this species, large quantities of some members of this genus, especially when taken in the form of the extracted essential oil, can cause abortions so some caution is advised.

Edible uses


Leaves - raw or cooked. A strong spearmint flavour, they are used as a flavouring in salads or cooked foods[1][2][3][4]. The leaves are often used in 'mint sauce', which is used as a flavouring in meals[5].

A herb tea is made from the fresh or dried leaves[6][4]. It has a very pleasant and refreshing taste of spearmint, leaving the mouth and digestive system feeling clean[K].

An essential oil from the leaves and flowers is used as a flavouring in sweets, ice cream, drinks etc[7][8][4]. A spearmint flavour[4].

Unknown part


Material uses

An essential oil is obtained from the whole plant, the yield is about 4K of oil from 1 tonne of leaves[7][8]. The oil is used commercially as a food flavouring and oral hygiene preparation[5]. The plant repels insects and was formerly used as an strewing herb[9][10][11]. 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[12].

Medicinal uses(Warning!)

Spearmint is a commonly used domestic herbal remedy. A tea made from the leaves has traditionally been used in the treatment of fevers, headaches, digestive disorders and various minor ailments[13]. The herb is antiemetic, antispasmodic, carminative, diuretic, restorative, stimulant and stomachic[2][6][7][14]. The leaves should be harvested when the plant is just coming into flower, and can be dried for later use[2].

The stems are macerated and used as a poultice on bruises[14]. The essential oil in the leaves is antiseptic, though it is toxic in large doses[13].

Both the essential oil and the stems are used in folk remedies for cancer[14]. A poultice prepared from the leaves is said to remedy tumours[14].


Ecosystem niche/layer

Ecological Functions

Nothing listed.


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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.

Practical Plants is currently lacking information on propagation instructions of Mentha spicata. Help us fill in the blanks! Edit this page to add your knowledge.


A very easily grown plant, it succeeds in most soils and situations so long as the soil is not too dry[15]. Grows well in heavy clay soils. A sunny position is best for production of essential oils, but it also succeeds in partial shade[2]. Prefers partial shade and a slightly acid soil[2][16].

Often grown as a culinary herb in the herb garden, spearmint is also commercially cultivated for its essential oil, the yields are about 3.5 to 4.5 kilos per tonne of leaves. There are some named varieties[15][5]. 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 whole plant has a strong spearmint smell. The flowers are very attractive to bees and butterflies[17]. A good companion plant for growing near cabbages and tomatoes, helping to keep them free of insect pests[9][11].

Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer[18].


Problems, pests & diseases

Associations & Interactions

There are no interactions listed for Mentha spicata. Do you know of an interaction that should be listed here? edit this page to add it.

Polycultures & Guilds

There are no polycultures listed which include Mentha spicata.




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None listed.

Full Data

This table shows all the data stored for this plant.

Binomial name
Mentha spicata
Imported References
Medicinal uses
Material uses & Functions
Edible uses
None listed.
Material uses
None listed.
Medicinal uses
None listed.
Functions & Nature
Provides forage for
Provides shelter for
Hardiness Zone
Heat Zone
full sun
light shade
Soil PH
Soil Texture
Soil Water Retention
Environmental Tolerances
    Native Climate Zones
    None listed.
    Adapted Climate Zones
    None listed.
    Native Geographical Range
    None listed.
    Native Environment
    None listed.
    Ecosystem Niche
    None listed.
    Root Zone Tendancy
    None listed.
    Deciduous or Evergreen
    Herbaceous or Woody
    Life Cycle
    Growth Rate
    Mature Size
    Flower Colour
    Flower Type

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    1. ? 1.01.1 Hedrick. U. P. Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World. Dover Publications ISBN 0-486-20459-6 (1972-00-00)
    2. ? Grieve. A Modern Herbal. Penguin ISBN 0-14-046-440-9 (1984-00-00)
    3. ? 3.03.1 Mabey. R. Food for Free. Collins ISBN 0-00-219060-5 (1974-00-00)
    4. ? Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants. Kampong Publications ISBN 0-9628087-0-9 (1990-00-00)
    5. ? Bown. D. Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses. Dorling Kindersley, London. ISBN 0-7513-020-31 (1995-00-00)
    6. ? Lust. J. The Herb Book. Bantam books ISBN 0-553-23827-2 (1983-00-00)
    7. ? Uphof. J. C. Th. Dictionary of Economic Plants. Weinheim (1959-00-00)
    8. ? Schery. R. W. Plants for Man. ()
    9. ? Holtom. J. and Hylton. W. Complete Guide to Herbs. Rodale Press ISBN 0-87857-262-7 (1979-00-00)
    10. ? 10.010.1 Philbrick H. and Gregg R. B. Companion Plants. Watkins (1979-00-00)
    11. ? Riotte. L. Companion Planting for Successful Gardening. Garden Way, Vermont, USA. ISBN 0-88266-064-0 (1978-00-00)
    12. ? 12.012.1 Phillips. R. & Foy. N. Herbs Pan Books Ltd. London. ISBN 0-330-30725-8 (1990-00-00)
    13. ? Foster. S. & Duke. J. A. A Field Guide to Medicinal Plants. Eastern and Central N. America. Houghton Mifflin Co. ISBN 0395467225 (1990-00-00)
    14. ? Duke. J. A. and Ayensu. E. S. Medicinal Plants of China Reference Publications, Inc. ISBN 0-917256-20-4 (1985-00-00)
    15. ? Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992. MacMillan Press ISBN 0-333-47494-5 (1992-00-00)
    16. ? Simons. New Vegetable Growers Handbook. Penguin ISBN 0-14-046-050-0 (1977-00-00)
    17. ? Baines. C. Making a Wildlife Garden. ()
    18. ? Thomas. G. S. Perennial Garden Plants J. M. Dent & Sons, London. ISBN 0 460 86048 8 (1990-00-00)
    19. ? Clapham, Tootin and Warburg. Flora of the British Isles. Cambridge University Press (1962-00-00)

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