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Mentha aquatica

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Mentha aquatica (water mint; syn. Mentha hirsuta Huds.<ref name=empp>Euro+Med Plantbase Project: Mentha aquatica</ref>) is a perennial flowering plant in the mint family Lamiaceae. It grows in moist places and is native to much of Europe, northwest Africa and southwest Asia.<ref name=empp/><ref name=fnwe>Flora of NW Europe: Mentha aquatica Template:Webarchive</ref>

Description

Water mint is a herbaceous rhizomatous perennial plant growing to Template:Convert tall. The stems are square in cross section, green or purple, and variably hairy to almost hairless. The rhizomes are wide-spreading, fleshy, and bear fibrous roots. The leaves are ovate to ovate-lanceolate, Template:Convert long and Template:Convert broad, green (sometimes purplish), opposite, toothed, and vary from hairy to nearly hairless. The flowers of the watermint are tiny, densely crowded, purple, tubular, pinkish to lilac in colour and form a terminal hemispherical inflorescence; flowering is from mid to late summer. Water mint is visited by many types of insects, and can be characterized by a generalized pollination syndrome,<ref>Template:Cite journal</ref> but can also spread by underground rhizomes. All parts of the plant have a distinctly minty smell.<ref name=fnwe/><ref name=blamey>Blamey, M. & Grey-Wilson, C. (1989). Flora of Britain and Northern Europe. Template:ISBN</ref><ref name=rhs>Huxley, A., ed. (1992). New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. Macmillan Template:ISBN.</ref> A variety known as Mentha aquatica var. litoralis is native to areas of Sweden and Finland near the Baltic Sea. It is unbranched, hairless, with narrower leaves and paler flowers.<ref name=NatureGate>Template:Cite web</ref>

Distribution and habitat

Water mint is native to much of Europe, northern Africa and western Asia. It has been introduced to North and South America, Australia and some Atlantic islands.<ref name=NatureGate/>

As the name suggests, water mint occurs in the shallow margins and channels of streams, rivers, pools, dikes, ditches, canals, wet meadows, marshes and fens. If the plant grows in the water itself, it rises above the surface of the water. It generally occurs on mildly acidic to calcareous (it is common on soft limestone) mineral or peaty soils.<ref name=fnwe/><ref name=blamey/> M. aquatica can occur in certain fen-meadow habitats such as the Juncus subnodulosus-Cirsium palustre plant association.<ref>C. Michael Hogan. 2009. Marsh Thistle: Cirsium palustre, GlobalTwitcher.com, ed. N. Strömberg Template:Webarchive</ref> It is a component of Purple moor grass and rush pastures - a type of Biodiversity ActPlan habitat in the UK.

It hybridises with Mentha spicata (spearmint) to produce Mentha × piperita (peppermint), a sterile hybrid; with Mentha suaveolens (apple mint) to produce Mentha × suavis; with Mentha arvensis (corn mint) to produce Mentha × verticillata; and with both M. arvensis and M. spicata to give the tri-species hybrid Mentha × smithiana.<ref name=fnwe/> It can be used to make a herbal tea.<ref name=NatureGate/>

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See also

References

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