The current circumscription of Mentha satureioides and Mentha diemenica represents the extremes of what appears to be a morphological continuum and is sometimes called the Mentha satureioides group[
Micromeria satureioides (R.Br.) Benth.
Common Name: Native Pennyroyal
Mentha satureioides is a low-growing, perennial plant growing from a spreading, rhizomatous rootstock. It forms a mat of growth, with prostrate to ascending stems around 10cm tall[
The plant 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.
Australia - Victoria, South Australia, New South Wales, Queensland
Sandy-clay to clay-rich soils, frequently in grassy areas and in open woodland communities[
]. Banks of rivers and creeks, open forests and pastures, especially on shale[
|Bees, Lepidoptera, Insects
Mentha satureioides is a moderately cold-hardy plant, tolerating short periods with temperatures down to about -15°c when fully dormant[
Succeeds in most soils and situations so long as the soil is not too dry[
]. Prefers a slightly acid soil[
]. Grows well in heavy clay soils. A sunny position is best for production of essential oils, but it also succeeds in partial shade.
Mentha species are very prone to hybridisation and so the seed cannot be relied on to breed true. Even without hybridisation, seedlings will often 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[
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[
Hybridizes freely with other members of this genus.
The whole plant has a mint-like aroma.
Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer[
Leaves - raw or cooked. Used as a flavouring in salads or cooked foods.
A herb tea is made from the leaves.
The leaves and flowering plant are alterative, antispasmodic, blood purifier, digestive, emmenagogue and tonic[
]. A tea made from the leaves has traditionally been used in the treatment of fevers, coughs, colds, headaches, digestive disorders, menstrual complaints and various minor ailments[
]. It can be used as a substitute for both pennyroyal (Mentha pulegium) and peppermint (Mentha x piperita)[
]. Like those species, it should not be prescribed for pregnant women since it can procure an abortion[
]. 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[
] and can cause abortions[
Mint species are usually good bee and butterfly attractant plants, supplying them with good quality pollen and nectar[
Mints are usually quite aromatic plants and they make good companions for cabbages and tomatoes, their aromatic nature helping to repel insect pests..
An essential oil is obtained from the whole plant. It has a scent intermediate between pennyroyal and peppermint[
]. The plant is used as an insect repellent[
Rats and mice intensely dislike the smell of mint. Members of the genus have therefore often been used in homes as strewing herbs and have also been spread in granaries to keep rodents off the stored 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.