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Mint Family

Economic Products Obtained From Mints

A number of herbs are derived from aromatic species in the mint family, sometimes as cultivars that have been selectively bred to enhance the aromatic qualities of the plants. The most commonly known of these herbs are derived from several herbaceous, perennial species in the genus Mentha, originally native to Eurasia but now cultivated widely in suitable, usually temperate climates. The common mint (Mentha arvensis), spearmint (M. spicata), and peppermint (M. piperita) are all used to flavor candies, chewing gum, toothpaste, and tea, and are sometimes used to prepare condiments to serve with meats and other foods. All of these species can be grown on heavy, wet soils that are unsuitable for most other crops. Peppermint is generally harvested in large-scale agriculture by mowing, its water content is partially dried, and the aromatic oils are extracted for use as flavorings and scents. Other species of mints are grown and harvested in similar ways.

The hoarhound (Marrubium vulgare) of Europe and Asia is another species used to flavor candies. Common sage (Salvia officinalis) is used to flavor foods, toothpaste, and mouthwash. Sweet marjoram (Origanum majorana) is used to flavor some types of cooked meats, stews, and other foods, as are basil (Ocimum basilicum), rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis), summer savory (Satureja hortensis), thyme (Thymus vulgaris), hyssop (Hysoppus officinalis), clary (Salvia sclarea), and balm (Melissa officinalis).

Various species in the mint family contain aromatic essential oils that can be extracted and used to scent potpourri and other decorations or as fragrances in the mixing of perfumes. Lavender (Lavandula officinalis) is a Mediterranean shrub that is commonly used for these purposes. Lavender is an important ingredient of eau de cologne and lavender water, and it is commonly dried and put into small bags called sachets and used to scent clothing cupboards and drawers. Other species of the mint family from which essential oils are extracted include the pennyroyal (Hedeoma pulegioides), rosemary, sage, and thyme.

Catnip (Nepeta cataria) is a species that felines find intriguing, and they will contentedly smell this species and play with toys stuffed with its dry foliage.

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Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Methane to Molecular clockMint Family - Biology Of Mints, Native Mints Of North America, Economic Products Obtained From Mints, Mints As Ornamental Plants