Mentha: Mint, Pudina

Family: Lamiaceae
Common name: Mint, Pudina

Mint leaves smell so good, that just watering the plants can make you feel good, with their aroma. There are 15-25 species and numerous hybrids in the mint genus. Leaf shapes, sizes and colors change depending on the variant, the most common ones being peppermint, spearmint, cornmint and apple mint. They have insect-repelling properties, due to their strong smell.

The plants spread over a large area, by developing roots at the stem nodes when they touch the ground. Once the plant is established in a soil, it grows fast, giving a good harvest every 2-3 days. Fresh leaves can be stored in the refrigerator in plastic boxes or bags; and survive longer if wrapped in kitchen rolls.

Mint is used in tea, juices, candies, jellies, syrups, chutneys and also sauces. Mint leaves give their characteristic taste to many Indian dishes like mint chutneys, chaats, biryani and pulav. Mint has many industrial uses in mouth fresheners, tooth pastes, chewing gums and air fresheners. Menthol derived from mint leaves is used in aromatherapy; and also in cosmetics and perfumes.

Mint also has medicinal uses, primarily in treatment of stomach ailments. In fact, the word mint is so popular that the Family Lamiaceae is also called the mint family, and includes other herbs like basil, rosemary, sage and oregano.

Propagation can be done from seeds. But a more reliable method is cutting pieces of stem that have already rooted, and replanting them.

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