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Southeastern wild mint identification and use

Updated on April 19, 2012
Blooming wild mint
Blooming wild mint
Wild mint that volunteered in my yard
Wild mint that volunteered in my yard
wild mint
wild mint

Identification

The wild mint most commonly found growing in the foothills of the Appalachians, mentha arvensis, has veined, pointy green leaves with jagged "teeth" along the edges. Leaves range from .5 to 3 inches in length and .2 to 1.5 inches in width. The blooms with hundreds of small, white flowers in early to mid summer until early fall. Plants grow up to six feet high, though they average only reach two to three feet. Breaking the plant and leaves produces a strong mint odor (durrr)

Wild mint is usually found growing naturally on the edge of fields or other places where there is plenty of sunlight. It prefers well drained soil and does well in dry, rocky ground.

Medicinal uses

The amount of purported uses for wild mint are staggering, I won't even try to mention them all here. The most common uses in alternative medicine include crushing the leaves or flowers and putting them on an aching tooth to dull the pain or seeping them in hot water to make a tea that helps to settle the stomach, ease flow during menstruation, aid indigestion or just to generally invigorate the drinker. The native Americans also used the tea or just ate the leaves to help with colds, coughs, flues and fevers. It's easy to see how the leaves could be rubbed on the chest for congestion, much like the vapor rubs you find in stores. 

young wild mint
young wild mint

Household/other uses

Mint plants repel many insects and rodents and leaves were traditionally used to keep rats and mice away from food stores. Leaves and flowers can be used as potpourri or dried and burned as incense. Leaves can also be consumed non-medicinally, being used to spice foods and season meats. Of course, mint leaves can also be chewed to freshen breath.

wild mint bloom a little too close up
wild mint bloom a little too close up
Odd insect
Odd insect
insect
insect

Comments

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    • davenmidtown profile image

      David Stillwell 

      7 years ago from Sacramento, California

      sounds like a great hub that someone should write.

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 

      7 years ago from the short journey

      Okay...new info for just the right moment in a conversation. :) Thanks!

    • davenmidtown profile image

      David Stillwell 

      7 years ago from Sacramento, California

      I have never seen on in person but they apparently mimic a caterpillar that is toxic to birds.

    • rick combe profile imageAUTHOR

      rick combe 

      7 years ago from USA

      Sorry my camera couldn't get any closer but I googled the Ailanthus moth and yeah, that's definitely what it is. Neat how it looks like a worm at first glance.

    • davenmidtown profile image

      David Stillwell 

      7 years ago from Sacramento, California

      I think it is a Ailanthus webworm moth. Look it up on the internet and see what you think.

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 

      7 years ago from the short journey

      Okay, now we have to know what this bug that looks like a worm but can fly is. Surely there is an entomologist available...

    • rick combe profile imageAUTHOR

      rick combe 

      7 years ago from USA

      I don't know what kind of insect it is, but it has antennas and can fly. One was on the plant today so I took and added a couple more photos at the bottom.

    • davenmidtown profile image

      David Stillwell 

      7 years ago from Sacramento, California

      I am curious... in the last photo are two objects that are orange and white. Are these insects of some kind and if so do you know what they are?

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 

      7 years ago from the short journey

      Thanks much for a good overview of this mint.

    • davenmidtown profile image

      David Stillwell 

      7 years ago from Sacramento, California

      The first picture looks almost like it belongs in the sage family... what a great hub. Thank you for the great information.

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