Bush mint (Mentha spicata) is a rhizomatous perennial native to Eurasia and Southwest Asia. Introduced as an ornamental and medicinal plant, bush mint has naturalized throughout most of North America.
Like all members of the mint family, bush mint has square stems. The lanceolate leaves have toothed margins and do not have hairs or can be sparsely hairy. The literature is contradictory about whether the leaves are sessile (have stalks) or not. The five-petaled, pink, tubular flowers are arranged in whorls to form a spike at the end of the stem and have four stamens and five purplish sepals.
Bush mint is found in rich, damp soil in full to partial sunlight, usually in disturbed areas.
Bush mint leaves can be used fresh or dried to make a soothing tea. Raw or cooked the leaves make a minty addition to salads or cooked foods. Oil from the leaves and flowers is commonly used as a flavoring.
Medicinally, fevers, headaches and digestive disorders, among other ailments, are treated with bush mint by herbalists.
Rodents dislike the smell of bush mint and the plant repels insects. Formerly bush mint was employed as a “strewing” herb. Stems of bush mint were “strewn” over floors and in storage areas to discourage rodents and insects.
Bush mint has many other common names including spearmint, lamb mint, mackerel mint and brown mint.
These bush mint plants were growing along the Falls Loop Trail at Burney Falls State Park (California). The flowering photographs were taken in late June, while the dried sepals were photographed in late October.