Synonyms: Other names: field mint, corn mint Nomenclature: arvensis = in meadows Nativity / Invasiveness: Montana native plant
General: plant height: 20-80 cm tall. Growth habit: perennial from creeping rhizomes. Stems: ascending or erect, 4-sided, mostly hairless or short-hairy.
Leaves: opposite, short-stalked, slightly reduced upwards. The blade 2-8 cm long and 6-40 mm wide, rather narrowly ovate or elliptic-ovate to more often somewhat rhombic-elliptic, mostly hairless or short-hairy, sharp-toothed, pointed, with several pairs of lateral veins.
Flowers: funnel-shaped with 4 spreading lobes, white to light purple or pink, 4-7 mm long, numerous in compact, separate whorls, borne in the axils of the middle and upper leaves. Calyx mostly hairless or short-hairy, 2.5-3 mm long, with short, triangular, pointed lobes.
Moist places, especially along streams and shores, from the lowlands to moderate elevations in the mountains, in most parts of MT. Also from CA and NM to MO and VA.
The leaves of wild mint are edible, raw or cooked. A reasonably strong minty flavor with a slight bitterness, they are used as a flavoring in salads or cooked foods. A herb tea can be made from the fresh or dried leaves. An essential oil from the plant is used as a flavoring in sweets and beverages. The leaves contain about 0.2% essential oil.
Corn 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. The whole plant is anaesthetic, antispasmodic, antiseptic, aromatic, and has agents that counteract inflammation, that relieve and remove gas from the digestive system, induce sweating, promote or assist the flow of menstrual fluid, promote secretion of milk, relieve fever and thirst, give strength and tone to the stomach, and is a stimulant. A tea made from the leaves has traditionally been used in the treatment of fevers, headaches, digestive disorders and various minor ailments. The leaves are a classical remedy for stomach cancer. A poultice of leaves and stems has been applied to areas of pain and swelling, and for rheumatism and arthritis. The Cheyenne Indians used a tea of ground leaves and stems taken for vomiting. 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.
The plant is used as an insect repellent. 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. The leaves also repel various insects. Leaves powdered and sprinkled on meat and berries was used as a bug repellant. An essential oil is obtained from the plant. The yield from the leaves is about 0.8%. The sub-species M. arvensis piperascens produces the best oil, which can be used as a substitute for, or adulterant of, peppermint oil. Yields of up to 1.6% have been obtained from this sub-species.
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