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Common Name: Round-Leaved Mint
Mentha suaveolens is a perennial plant that can grow up to 1.00 metres tall.
It is harvested from the wild for local use as a food, medicine and source of materials.
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.
S. and W. Europe, north to the Netherlands and east into W. Asia.
Damp ground that often dries out in summer, from sea level to 400 metres in Turkey[
A very easily grown plant, it succeeds in most soils and situations so long as the soil is not too dry[
]. Grows well in heavy clay soils. A sunny position is best for production of essential oils, but plants also succeed in partial shade.
Often cultivated as a pot herb[
]. There are some named varieties[
]. The flowers have a sickly sweet smell[
A very invasive plant, spreading freely at the roots[
]. Unless you have the space to let it roam, it needs to be restrained by some means such as planting it in a container that is buried in the soil[
]. It is said to be a good companion for cabbages and tomatoes, its aromatic leaves repelling insect pests, though its aggressive root system also needs to be taken into account here.
The whole plant has a mint-like aroma.
The flowers are very attractive to bees and butterflies.
Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer[
Hybridizes freely with other members of this genus.
Leaves - raw or cooked as a potherb[
]. Used as a flavouring in salads or cooked foods[
]. The leaves have a similar flavour to spearmint, and are considered to be superior in flavour to that species but are also hairy, which makes them less suitable for garnishing[
A herb tea is made from the leaves[
Round leafed mint, like many other members of this genus, is often used as a domestic herbal remedy, being valued especially for its antiseptic properties and its beneficial effect on the digestion. Like other members of the genus, it is best not used by pregnant women because large doses can cause an abortion. A tea made from the leaves of most mint species has traditionally been used in the treatment of fevers, headaches, digestive disorders and various minor ailments[
]. The leaves are harvested as the plant comes into flower and can be dried for later use[
The essential oil in the leaves is antiseptic, though it is toxic in large doses[
An essential oil is obtained from the whole plant.
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[
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[
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.