Thursday, January 20, 2011

South African mint


A couple of years ago I saw this mint growing beside a clear, cold stream on the dry, dry road to De Hel. I presumed it to be an invader. But Mentha longifolia is native-born, and now I see it with a rush of pleasure, because I like all mints, and am happy that this one is not taking over this part of the world. Its strong peppermint scent is an instant tonic and it is put to all the usual traditional uses via teas: coughs, colds, respiratory tract infections, bad smells of all kinds, and as an insect repellent rubbed onto skin and clothes. It grows tall, and likes sun, but is as fond of water as its cousins, so will spread if allowed to. There is a great bank of it growing at the bottom of the pelargonium koppie at Kirstenbosch and some more in the Fragrance Garden.

All of which makes me thirsty for a mojito...

5 comments:

  1. I have a love/hate thing with wild mint over here. It smells wonderful when I cut the grass, but it seeds itself everywhere. I bet the SA variety has a powerful scent under the strong sun.

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  2. I love M. longifolia, which I have mail ordered several times. In Brooklyn, I had it in a pot, where it overwintered two years and then expired. This past summer I ordered it again and now have some in the ground in Yonkers. I won't mind if it spreads as its by the road. It has such a strong smell -- you need only bump into it. And the flowers are pretty. I found it when I was searching online for Mentha buddleiafolia after reading Ann Lovejoy's FRAGRANCE IN BLOOM. I never found the buddleia mint, but am happy to have discovered this one which is also ornamental.

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  3. mint and "geraniums," how nice. Makes me feel all summery.

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  4. this is my favorate mint of all the kinds, it grows in the mountains in Saudi Arabia, it has a very distinct and rare smell and taste...love it moh250lm@hotmail

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