Mints

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flora_mint1.jpgMost likely an apple mint (Mentha suaveolens}, this plant sports lavender spikes when in bloom flora_mint2.jpg

Mints (Labiatae) are a large family of perennial herbs, mostly native to temperate regions of the Old World and widely spread over temperate parts of the world. The labiatae family includes about 3000 species of plants, mainly grasses and shrubs, very fragrant and rich in medicinal properties. Mints typically prefer moist soil and bear small lavender or purple flowers in summer; they are characterized in part by their square stems and opposing leaves, with each pair of leaves at right angles to the ones above and below it.

Mints develop their best colors and flavors when grown in the sun. There are two growth phases for mints: the first, in early spring, will be evident as the stems head up to make flowers — flower spikes bloom from the bottom up and continue to elongate even as they blossom. After flower production, the second phase kicks in and horizontal runners take off and cover a lot of distance in a short time. Honeybees and butterflies love mint flowers, not to mention those of us who are fond of drinking mojitos in the garden.

Labiatae include about 200 genera including ajuga, hyssop, lamium, lavender, mentha, rosemary, oregano, sage, & thyme. Of these, mentha is most typically identified as "mint." Mentha are is easy to distinguish because of their rough, wrinkled, & hairy leaves, square stems, and flowers in long spikes.

For a list of other plants found growing within Davis, please visit our Town Flora page.

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