20 November 2012

Horsemint is Mentha longifolia

http://ecommons.cornell.edu/handle/1813/1346
Horsemint, Mentha longifolia, has 7 subspecies -
1. Mentha longifolia subsp. longifolia. Europe, northwest Africa.
2. Mentha longifolia subsp. capensis (Thunb.) Briq. Southern Africa.
3. Mentha longifolia subsp. grisella (Briq.) Briq. Southeastern Europe.
4. Mentha longifolia subsp. noeana (Briq.) Briq. Turkey east to Iran.
5. Mentha longifolia subsp. polyadena (Briq.) Briq. Southern Africa.
6. Mentha longifolia subsp. typhoides (Briq.) Harley. Northeast Africa, southwest Asia.
7. Mentha longifolia subsp. wissii (Launert) Codd. Southwestern Africa.

The British garden site Shoot provides a few more common names: Wild mint, Kruisement, Horsemint, and Buddleja mint.

www.plantzafrica.com
It spreads by underground rhizomes, provides lots of bee and pollinator pollen as well as having culinary and medicinal uses.
"Found in most parts of the country and easy to harvest, wild mint is a popular traditional medicine. It is mainly used for respiratory ailments but many other uses have also been recorded. It is mostly the leaves that are used, usually to make a tea that is drunk for coughs, colds, stomach cramps, asthma, flatulence, indigestion and headaches. Externally, wild mint has been used to treat wounds and swollen glands. In her book Traditional healing herbs, Margaret Roberts mentions the different uses of Mentha longifolia and M. aquatica, which are delicious in salads and vegetable dishes. She also mentions that M. longifolia subsp. capensis, with its strong smell rubbed onto the body and bedding, is used to keep mosquitoes away. "

Horizon Herbs calls the plant Arabian Mint and U.C. Berkeley calls it plain old Horsemint.
www.hooksgreenherbs.com
To make it even more interesting, Hooks Green Herbs at Stone, Staffordshire, as well as many other garden sites, say it is a native of Europe and has spread throughout the world from there. They call it Silver Mint in their catalog.

An article in Pub Med, the online health resource says, "Calcium channel blocking activity of Mentha longifolia L. explains its medicinal use in diarrhoea and gut spasm."

At eFloras.org, Mentha longifolia is listed as a native plant in China, Pakistan and Missouri USA.

U.C. Berkeley BioSciences
To add to the name and origin interest, Mountain Valley Growers calls it Habek Mint! They say it is garden - hardy in US zones 5 to 11 and remind gardeners to plant it only in containers to keep those rhizomes from moving in too aggressively.

Companion Plants recommends it for Biblical gardens and says it is hardy in zones 3 to 9.

The oil extracted from Mentha longifolia is sold online as Spearmint Oil.

Other than tea for upset tummies, asthma help, fever reducer, an essential ingredient in couscous, a lovely addition to cut flower arrangements, Mentha longifolia is used to empty beehives. The Vagabond Adventures says, "It is traditionally used to rob bee hives. The wild mint is mixed with grass and set alight. Its smoke stupefies the bees, giving you (hopefully!) sting free honey."

I don't have any Mentha longifolia in my garden. Anyone out there have rhizomes to share or trade?

If you have an abundance of it in your garden, here are helpful recipes for couscous and mojitos from Kirsten at Autostraddle.com www.autostraddle.com/get-baked-and-toasted-get-out-of-your-gardening-predicamint-141671/.

2 comments:

gardenwalkgardentalk.com said...

This is a mint I did not know!

Tracey said...

The reason Mountain Valley Growers is calling it Habek is thatt hat is what it is known as in Saudi Arabia, where it is one of the main culinary herbs. One of the most popular teas is a mix of black tea and just a bit of habek. It is also used in sauces. I have Saudi family and am a host parent for Saudi students in the U.S., the they introduced me to it.