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Mentha longifolia

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Mentha longifolia (horse mint;<ref name=BSBI07>Template:Cite web</ref> syn. M. spicata var. longifolia L., M. sylvestris L., M. tomentosa D'Urv, M. incana Willd.) is a species in the genus Mentha (mint) native to Europe excluding Britain and Ireland,<ref name=IUCN>Template:Cite web</ref> western and central Asia (east to Nepal and the far west of China), and northern and southern (but not tropical) Africa.<ref name=empp>Euro+Med Plantbase Project: Mentha longifolia</ref><ref name=afpd>African Flowering Plants Database: Mentha longifolia</ref><ref name=foc>Flora of China: Mentha longifolia</ref> It is a very variable herbaceous perennial plant with a peppermint-scented aroma. Like many mints, it has a creeping rhizome, with erect to creeping stems 40–120 cm tall. The leaves are oblong-elliptical to lanceolate, 5–10 cm long and 1.5–3 cm broad, thinly to densely tomentose, green to greyish-green above and white below. The flowers are 3–5 mm long, lilac, purplish, or white, produced in dense clusters (verticillasters) on tall, branched, tapering spikes; flowering in mid to late summer. It spreads via rhizomes to form clonal colonies.<ref name=foc/><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>

Nicholas Culpeper's Complete Herbal (1653) states that "It is good for wind and colic in the stomach...The juice, laid on warm, helps the King's evil or kernels in the throat...The decoction or distilled water helps a stinking breath, proceeding from corruption of the teeth, and snuffed up the nose, purges the head. It helps the scurf or dandruff of the head used with vinegar."<ref>Template:Cite book</ref>

Subspecies

There are seven subspecies:<ref name=empp/><ref name=afpd/><ref name=rhs/>

  • Mentha longifolia subsp. longifolia. Europe, northwest Africa
  • Mentha longifolia subsp. capensis (Thunb.) Briq. Southern Africa
  • Mentha longifolia subsp. grisella (Briq.) Briq. Southeastern Europe
  • Mentha longifolia subsp. noeana (Briq.) Briq. Turkey east to Iran
  • Mentha longifolia subsp. polyadena (Briq.) Briq. Southern Africa
  • Mentha longifolia subsp. typhoides (Briq.) Harley. Northeast Africa, southwest Asia
  • Mentha longifolia subsp. wissii (Launert) Codd. Southwestern Africa

It has been widely confused with tomentose variant plants of Mentha spicata; it can be distinguished from these by the hairs being simple unbranched, in contrast to the branched hairs of M. spicata.<ref name=blamey/> Like almost all mints, Mentha longifolia can be invasive. Care needs to be taken when planting it in non-controlled areas.

See also

References

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