Mint - Pennyroyal Mint
Mint - Pennyroyal Mint
- In stock, ready to ship
- Inventory on the way
Usually available: All year
Life cycle: Perennial
Height: 5 -15cm
Position: Sun / part shade
Soil preference: Moist / well drained
This is how we pack and send your Herb Plants to all states except TAS & WA
You will receive
- 1 Pennyroyal Mint Herb Plant in a 50 X 75mm tube - General growing instructions
All of our Herb Plants are grown organically with certified organic potting mixes and fertilizers
Botanical Name: Mentha pulegium
Pennyroyal is a small, groundcover perennial with glossy green leaves. It reaches a height of only 15cm and has an indefinite width due to its spreading nature. The plant is able to spread on the ground’s surface as well as in the soil, rooting at nodes when vegetative parts of the plant touch the ground. This creeping habit means that Pennyroyal is an ideal groundcover, which is also highly aromatic. There is also Pennyroyal ‘Upright’ which reaches up to 30cm high. This variety is similar except for the plant structure and also spreads. However, it does not root easily at the nodes.
The tiny mauve flowers appear in late spring, held in whorled clusters. They grow up the stem in tiers, extending out from near the leaf nodes. The oval leaves are a dark glossy green colour, with small hairs on either side. They are held in opposite pairs on short stalks, averaging about 2.5 cm long and 1.5 cm wide. This small herb is native to Europe and some parts of Asia, but has been naturalised in many regions whenever it finds a suitable climate. It particularly likes to grow in moist ground near watercourses.
The common name Pennyroyal was derived from the word ‘Puliol’, the old French name for thyme. This became Royal Puliol, then Puliol Royale and finally developed into Pennyroyal. In France this plant is called La Mentha Puliol. The botanical name is Mentha pulegium, with Mentha indicating that this plant is categorised as a member of the Mint genus. The species name ‘pulegium’ is derived from the Latin ‘pulex’ which means flea. This refers to the traditional use of eradicating fleas by burning and smoking the leaves, or by using the fresh plant. The Romans knew this plant simply as Pulegium. Pennyroyal may also be called Creeping Pennyroyal, Squawmint, Mosquito Plant or Pudding Grass.
There are several cultivars which have been developed by gardeners over the years. Pennyroyal has a very different form to the other members. More information about other mints can be found below.
There are many Mint varieties known to herb gardeners and lovers of good cuisine, all varying slightly in flavour, aroma and appearance. They are categorized in the genus ‘Mentha’, which has up to 18 species, within the Lamiaceae family of plants. The Lamiaceae family is known as the mint family. However, the largest group of plants in the mint family is actually the delightful Salvias with their brilliantly coloured blooms. Many other commonly known herbs are also found in this family, including basil, sage, thyme and even lavender. One characteristic of this plant family is that they all yield essential oils, giving each plant its unique characteristics and even potential for medicinal use. Even the Scutellaria genus, with the unusually named Baikal Skullcap is found within this family.
The mints consist of mostly spreading and low growing perennial plants. The height range is from 10 cm to 1 meter, so not all are at ground level. Mint plants send out runners, or stolons, to help them spread by developing roots and shoots at the nodes. This allows plants to cover up to 1 meter in stem growth, in good conditions. They are all fast growing plants and due to the spreading nature, one plant is often sufficient for most gardeners. Some mints can be invasive and it is recommended that containers or in ground barriers be used. Mints can suffer from some pests like snails and aphids and may be affected by mint rust. Rust Free Mint may also be a useful addition to the garden in addition to the many other varieties.
Most mint plants have square stems, with leaves held in opposite pairs. They are often downy with a serrated margin, with a variable leaf shape and colours ranging from green to purple. The flowers are usually white to purple and present in false whorls or verticillaster or false whorl. The corolla is usually two lipped and has 4 lobes, with the upper lobe usually the largest.
Mint plants come from across the globe and will grow in most climates, including a wide range of regions across Australia. Some are annual varieties, but in cool climate zones perennial mints may best be treated as annuals and replaced each year. Generally they have high water requirements and prefer rich soils. Mint is grown commercially in Tasmania due to the ideal conditions of long summer days in high altitudes, where temperatures average 25C during the day to 15C at night. Ideal conditions usually require full sun, but part shade may be necessary as temperatures increase in warm summer regions.
Most mints have a history of traditional medicinal or herbal use for fevers, headaches and minor ailments. These plants are often used as a digestive aid in the form or herbal tea. The essential oil is also antiseptic and may be toxic in very high doses. They should be avoided by pregnant women and must not be given, or placed next to the face of babies and young children, due to the potential for breathing difficulties associated with menthol.
Mint hybridizes very easily, so there are many varieties available to suit any garden. In fact, if you have mixed plants some may hybridize in your own garden. The most popular choices are Spearmint, Peppermint and Applemint. However, many varieties in our collection, such as Ginger Mint, Eau de Cologne, Chocolate Mint and many others are also becoming well known.
Pennyroyal requires full sun for best performance and a fertile, well-drained soil. The ground should not be too damp, since the leaves will rot or be affected by mildew if they are too wet, especially in cold winters. Drier soil in winter allows some measure of frost protection and Pennyroyal should be tolerant to minus 5 C. However this mint does like to be in moist ground, so in summer extra watering will be required.
Most mint plants have roots that travel underground, however Creeping Pennyroyal also travels on the surface. This means that wherever a part of the plant touches the ground a small root system will appear. To propagate the plant, take plant sections and pot up or allow roots to develop and replant when ready. Note, however, that Pennyroyal ‘Upright’ does not take root at the nodes and cuttings would be required for propagation. Pennyroyal also grows well from seed.
If the plant becomes too invasive in any area of the garden, simply dig that section out and discard carefully. If the plant becomes too wet in winter or spring it may suffer from a rotting type of mildew. Affected leaves should be removed and less water should be provided. Pennyroyal is a good container plant.
Pennyroyal has a long tradition of medicinal use, despite the risk from its toxic properties due to the active constituent pulegone, even at low levels. The essential oil should never be taken internally because it may lead to liver or kidney damage, multiple organ failure or death in humans and animals. Even in relatively modern times, deaths have occurred in people and animals that consumed toxic amounts, as little as 1 ounce or approximately 30 grams. As an herbal tea, Pennyroyal was popular for treating stomach disorders and bloating, respiratory infections such as colds and influenza and to induce sweating.
A darker side to Pennyroyal is found in its use to induce abortions for unwanted pregnancies. It was also used to induce menstruation. Although the leaves were usually used, the essential oil is where the active ingredients are found in greater quantities. In earlier times it was thought that the leaves alone would create the desired effect, however it is now known to be the essential oil. Despite this knowledge, Pennyroyal should not be consumed by pregnant women due to inherent risk of uterine contractions.
Pennyroyal was a common cooking herb for the Greeks and Romans and it was used for food preparation during the Middle Ages. However, its use faded over time and today this plant is rarely used. The Ancient Greeks used to flavour their wine with Pennyroyal and at one time the leaves were used to flavour the stuffing of Hog’s Puddings – which is a type of sausage made from mince, grain and other ingredient in some areas of Britain.
Culinary uses may include use of the leaves to make strong mint sauce and for adding to iced water. Pennyroyal Mint has a strong taste and should be used sparingly. Many say the flavour is less agreeable than Peppermint or Spearmint so this may also have contributed to the lowering popularity of Pennyroyal as a culinary herb. Leaves may be picked fresh when the plant is not flowering and used or frozen for later use. They are not recommended for drying.
Pennyroyal had many uses including being used to eradicate pests ranging from fleas to rattlesnakes. The fresh or dried leaves are also said to be good insect repellents. However, it is important to respect the toxicity of this plant and not to use the essential oil. For example, using the oil to repel fleas by placing it on an animal may result in the death of the animal, as well as the fleas. Even spreading it around in the house or outside may result in some oil being ingested by animals, children or other people as their hands, feet and bodies touch those surfaces.
All information provided on this website is for informational purposes only. Please seek professional advice before commencing any treatment.