Peppermint





(Mentha piperita, Linn.) is much the same in habit of

growth as spearmint. It is a native of northern Europe, where it may be

found in moist situations along stream banks and in waste lands. In

America it is probably even more common as an escape than spearmint.

Like its relative, it has long been known and grown in gardens and

fields, especially in Europe, Asia and the United States.



Description.--Like spearmint, the plant has creeping rootstocks, which

rapidly extend it, and often make it a troublesome weed in moist ground.

The stems are smaller than those of spearmint, not so tall, and are more

purplish. They bear ovate, smooth leaves upon longer stalks than those

of spearmint. The whorled clusters of little, reddish-violet flowers

form loose, interrupted spikes. No seed is borne.



Cultivation.--Although peppermint prefers wet, even swampy, soil, it

will do well on moist loam. It is cultivated like spearmint. In

Michigan, western New York and other parts of the country it is grown

commercially upon muck lands for the oil distilled from its leaves and

stems. Among essential oils, peppermint ranks first in importance. It is

a colorless, yellowish or greenish liquid, with a peculiar, highly

penetrating odor and a burning, camphorescent taste. An interesting use

is made of it by sanitary engineers, who test the tightness of pipe

joints by its aid. It has the faculty of making its escape and betraying

the presence of leaks. It is largely employed in the manufacture of

soaps and perfumery, but probably its best known use is for flavoring

confectionery.





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