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What is Peppermint?:

Peppermint, or mentha piperita, is a hybrid mint, a cross between watermint (mentha aquatica) and spearmint (mentha spicata). It is part of the Lamiaceae family (mint family). As it is a hybrid, it is almost always sterile, producing no seeds and reproducing vegetatively, spreading by it's rhizomes. It is a fast spreading, perennial and winter hard plant. Peppermint flowers from July till September with small violet flowers.


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Peppermint as a plant:
The leaves of the peppermint plant are but distinctly stalked, 2 inches or more in length, and 3/4 to 1 1/2 inches broad, their margins finely toothed, their surfaces smooth, both above and beneath, or only very slightly, hardly visibly, hairy on the principal veins and mid-rib on the underside.

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The stems, 2 to 4 feet high are quadrangular, often purplish. The spiral clusters of little reddish-violet flowers are in the axils of the upper leaves, forming loose, interrupted spikes, and rarely bear seeds. The entire plant has a very characteristic odor, due to the volatile oil present in all its parts, which when applied to the tongue has a hot, aromatic taste at first, and afterwards produces a cold sensation in the mouth caused by the menthol it contains.
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Where in the world is Peppermint?Peppermint generally grows best in moist, shaded areas. It is sometimes found wild in Central and Southern Europe, but was probably first put to human use in England, whence its cultivation spread to the European continent and Africa.

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Today, Northern Africa is a main cultivation area. From its native range, peppermint has spread all around the world and it is considered invasive in Australia, the Galapagos Islands, New Zealand, and throughout the United States.Untitled.jpg


All in the family:Peppermint is part of the Lamiaceae (mint family). There are no poisonous plants in this family and it mainly contains different herbs used for cooking like thyme, rosemary, sage, basil and more. Many plants in the family, like peppermint, have medicinal uses such as savory, self-heal, plectranthus, and skullcap, amongst others.skullcap3888L.jpg

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Peppermint Uses:
Peppermint has so many uses, both medicinal and flavorful. Peppermint oil has a high menthol content and is commonly used to soothe or treat symptoms. Examples would be nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, indigestion, irritable bowel, and bloating. It is also used in aroma therapy. Because of its high menthol content, peppermint is often used in tea and for flavoring ice cream, medicines, chewing gum, and toothpaste. It is used to flavor candies, pastries, alcoholic beverages, and so much more.

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Peppermint in Greek Mythology (Wild Card):
The name peppermint comes from Greek mythology in the form of a love triangle. As in all Greek mythologies, there are many versions of the story. The most popular one states that Hades seduced the nymph, Minthe, and his wife, Persephone, became enraged with jealousy and turned Minthe into a plant that people would constantly walk on.Outraged by his wife's interference, Hades imbued the plant with peppermint, so whenever the plant was crushed underneath footfalls, it would release a wonderful aroma. Hades hoped that by doing this, people would remember Minthe and recall how beautiful and full of life she had been. Persephone was furious over her husband's tampering, because Minthe's presence would forever linger in the air as a constant reminder of her presence. In another version, Persephone turned Minthe into peppermint (other versions state mint) as a way to save her from Hades's seduction. As for the origins of mint's reputation as the herb of hospitality, Greek mythology tells us the story. Two strangers were walking through a village. The villagers ignored them and offered neither food nor drink. Finally an old couple, Philemon and Baucis, offered them a meal. Before the four sat down for their meal, the couple rubbed the table with mint leaves to clean and freshen it. The strangers turned out to be the gods Zeus and Hermes in disguise. As a for the hospitality Philemon and Baucis had shown them, the gods turned the humble home into a temple. Mint thus became the symbol of hospitality.

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Works Cited__

Grieve, Maud. "Mints." A Modern Herbal. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Nov. 2012. <http://botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/m/mints-39.html#pep>.
"Information about the Herb Peppermint." Global Herbal Supplies. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Nov. 2012. <http://www.globalherbalsupplies.com/herb_information/peppermint.htm#General_Information>.
"Medicinal Herb Chart." Anne's Remedy. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Nov. 2012. <http://www.anniesremedy.com/chart.php?herbs_families_ID=31>.
Painter, Sally. "History of Peppermint." Love to Know Herbs. N.p., n.d. Web. 2 Dec. 2012. <http://herbs.lovetoknow.com/History_of_Peppermint>.
"Peppermint (Mentha Piperita L.)." Gernot Katzer’s Spice Pages. N.p., 28 July 2004. Web. 25 Nov. 2012. <http://gernot-katzers-spice-pages.com/engl/Ment_pip.html?redirect=1>.
"Peppermint." Wikipedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Nov. 2012. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peppermint>.
"PLANTS Profile Mentha ×piperita L. (pro Sp.) [aquatica × Spicata]." Plant's Database. United States Department of Agriculture,n.d. Web. 25 Nov. 2012. <http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=MEPI&mapType=large&photoID=mepi_001_avp.tif>.

Digital image. Google. N.p., n.d. Web. 2 Dec. 2012. <https://www.google.com/search?num=10&hl=en&safe=off&site=imghp&tbm=isch&source=hp&biw=1366&bih=622&q=peppermint&oq=peppermint&gs_l=img.3..0l10.1228.2338.0.2424.10.6.0.4.4.0.118.516.4j2.6.0...0.0...1ac.1.1RsBbKlB4lU>.
South Texas Unit of The Herb Society of America. "Mint." South Texas Unit of The Herb Society of America. N.p., n.d. Web. 2 Dec. 2012. <http://www.herbsociety-stu.org/Mint.htm>.