Mentha arvensis

Mentha arvensis

Mentha arvensis L. (1753) is a perennial herbaceous species belonging to the Lamiaceae family.

Systematic –
From a systematic point of view it belongs to the Domain Eukaryota, Kingdom Plantae, Subarign Tracheobionta, Superdivisione Spermatophyta, Magnoliophyta Division, Magnoliopsida Class, Sottoclasse Asteridae, Order Lamiales, Family Lamiaceae, Tribe Mentheae and then to the Genus Mentha and to the Species M. arvensis. This entity has attributed different nomenclatures over time; among the sinomimes we remember: Mentha canadensis L., Calamintha arvensis (L.) Garsault, Mentha agrestis Hegetschw., Mentha angustifolia Schreb., Mentha campestris Schur., Mentha campicola Heinr.Braun., Mentha hill Topitz and Mentha cuneifolia (Lej. & Courtois) Domin.

Etymology –
The term Mentha comes from the Greek μίνθᾰ mínthă mint, where “Mintha” is the name of an unfortunate river nymph, daughter of the god Cocito (but it is also a mythological river), which has been transformed into a grass by Persephone because lover of Of you. It was used for the first time by Gaius Plinio Secondo, Roman writer, admiral and naturalist. The specific epithet arvensis derives from arvum field, arid soil: of arid and cultivated fields, for the growth environment.

Geographic Distribution and Habitat –
Corn Mint is typical of uncultivated habitats, wet meadows and fields on both siliceous and calcareous substrates but also siliceous with acidic pH and high nutritional values ​​of the soil that must be medium wet. It is a common species in the North of Italy; in the Center and in the South it has a discontinuous distribution. Outside Italy, still in the Alps, this species is found in France (departments of Alpes-Maritimes, Savoie and Haute-Savoie), Switzerland (all cantons), Austria (all Länder) and Slovenia. Other European surveys connected to Alps is located in the Black Forest, Vosges, Jura Massif, Massif Central, Pyrenees, Balkan Mountains and Carpathians. In the rest of Europe it is found everywhere, including Anatolia and Transcaucasia. As for the altimetric distribution, the Mentha arvensis is found up to 1600 m s.l.m .; then it frequents the following vegetation plans: hilly, mountainous and partly the subalpine ones (in addition to the plain one – at sea level).

Description –
Corn Mint is recognized for having prostrated or ascending stems, shaggy, leaves to the apex. The leaves are petiolate more or less widely ovate, dentate or crenate. The flowers are hermaphroditic (with both the male and female organs) and the fertilization is entomophilous. The fruits are schizocarps composed of 4 nuculas (tetrachenio) with globose forms from ovoid to cylindroid with the surface from smooth to rough. Dehiscence is basal or lateral. Size of the necks: 1 x 1 mm. The antesi is from the period of May until October and the seeds ripen from July to October.

Cultivation –
Corn Mint is a species that adapts to all latitudes but it is more common to find it where the spring is cold and humid and the summer is hot and dry, being able to grow both in full sun and in shady areas even if, in many places bright it favors a greater formation of essential oils as well as long days, and the higher temperature. It is a plant that can be grown both in pots and in the ground, being stolonifera must be contained if raised in predefined flowerbeds. In the open field instead with a plant density of 4 or 5 plants / sqm, providing a mulch for the first 6 months and equipped with a drip irrigation system, allows obtaining good harvests for the production of essential oils. The basic workings are the usual and include surface work with ripper at 25-30 cm of maximum depth, not to alter the profile of the ground, fertilization with mature manure, milling, avoiding the equipment that compact the soil. Mint, like other species of mint, requires regular and generous irrigation especially during the summer with the foresight to stop irrigation 20 days before collecting it for the production of essential oil. An important precaution is not to wet the leaves when watering because the evaporation causes the loss of essential oils, therefore we recommend the use of dripping wings or better porous tubes, which guarantee constant humidity combined with water savings. As for the propagation, being a stolonifera plant, it is very simple. In Italy, in the period between March and April, the material to be propagated will be selected to be healthy, and the plants will be divided with the most suitable equipment, making cuts with sharp blades. The new seedlings will then be buried in jars (with a diameter of 12-14 cm) with brown peat soil at neutral pH or even slightly acidic (pH 6-7) and well draining as it does not like water stagnation, the pots are left on cold pallets in the nursery. It can also be propagated by apical cuttings, in the spring period; in this case these must be 15-20 cm long, taken at the apex of healthy and vigorous 2-3 years old plants. They must be planted for at least 2/3 of their length in a mixture of peat and sand, taking care to remove the leaves of the part that will go underground, and kept in a fresh greenhouse (about 18 ° C) until they are rooted (approx. four weeks). They will be transplanted to their final location the following spring. As for fertilization this should be done with well-composted manure. Being a very rustic plant does not require further fertilization.

Uses and Traditions –
Mentha arvensis, like many other species of mint, is well known and cited by many authors of antiquity for its therapeutic properties. The Egyptians used the juice of mint in the preparation of resinous ointments that were used for the preservation of corpses. Country mint has properties: anesthetic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, carminative, diaphoretic, emmenaghe and febrifugal. Like other species of the genus, it is better that it is not used by pregnant women, because high doses can lead to abortion. In folk medicine, tea made from leaves has traditionally been used to treat fevers, headaches, digestive disorders and various minor ailments.

Preparation Mode –
The edible parts of this mint are the leaves (raw or cooked) with which you can make an infusion, or they can be used as a condiment or spice. In the kitchen the sub-species M. arvensis piperascens produces the best oil, which can be used as a substitute or to adulterate the peppermint oil.For the individual preparations can be prepared:
– Herbal teas; extraction technique that uses the leaves of Mint, which after being collected, are placed in dryers, for not too prolonged times, and at temperatures not above 45 ° C, to avoid losing the color to the leaves. The mint extraction process continues with a “tempering” treatment, spraying water to prevent crushing, given the excessive fragility of the dried product.
– Essential oil; the extraction of the essential oil of mint takes place in a stream of steam with fresh material, just collected. What is obtained is the raw essence of mint that following decantation and filtration, can be traded. For industrial use it must first be rectified. The average production of raw mint essence per quintal of fresh harvest ranges from 500 to 700 g up to a maximum of 900 g.
– Tincture; another technique for extracting the mint, is obtained by macerating the mint plant harvested at the time of flowering, in an alcoholic solution with a titer of 70 °.

Guido Bissanti

Sources
– Acta Plantarum – Flora of the Italian Regions.- Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.- Treben M., 2000. Health from the Pharmacy of the Lord, Advice and experience with medicinal herbs, Ennsthaler Editore- Pignatti S., 1982. Flora d ‘Italia, Edagricole, Bologna.- Conti F., Abbate G., Alessandrini A., Blasi C. (edited by), 2005. An annotated checklist of the Italian vascular flora, Palombi Editore.

Warning: Pharmaceutical applications and alimurgical uses are indicated for informational purposes only and do not in any way represent a medical prescription; there is therefore no liability for their use for curative, aesthetic or food purposes.

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