Water Mint - Mentha aquatica

Main features

  • Found in or near water sources

  • Can reach up to 90cm tall

  • Leaves and new growth in opposing pairs up the stem

  • The leaves are finely toothed

  • Stem is square

  • Flower heads are spherical and have pink/lilac flowers

  • The flowers heads appear from the leaf nodes and as a terminal flower head

  • The plant can either be very hairy or have no hairs at all

  • Strong minty smell when crushed

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Water Mint - Mentha aquatica

Edible plant - novice

Other common names None known

 

Scientific name meaning In Greek mythology, the nymph Minthe tried to seduce Hades, but Hades' Queen Persephone turned Minthe into a sweet-smelling plant. Minthe's name is the origin of Mentha. The species name Aquatica, is of Latin origin and means "belonging to the water"

Season Early spring to Autumn,

 

Habitat - where will I find it? Unsurprisingly, Water Mint can be found in wet places such as ponds, streams, rivers, dykes, damp woodlands, fens and marshes. It is a native of Europe, Africa and Asia

Description - what does it look like? Like all members of the mint family, Water Mint has a square stem and a minty smell when crushed.

The finely-toothed leaves grow in opposing pairs up its stems, which can reach 90cm. 

The flower heads appear from Summer to Autumn, are spherical in shape, and emerge from the leaf nodes. There is also a terminal flower head. The flower heads contain lots of small pink-lilac flowers. 

Like all mints, Water Mint spreads via rhizomes (runners). usually these are underground and cannot be seen. However, if Water Mint is growing in water of any depth, the runners can often be seen sprawling out just under the surface

Possible lookalikes Other mints, however these are also edible

Use as a food Water Mint can be used the same as any other mint, such as for jellies, syrups, flavouring hot dishes and salads, or used to make a tea.

See Hazards regarding eating water plants

Use in herbal medicine Similar to other mints, Water mint has been used to treat digestive upsets, headaches, and oral hygiene problems. In addition, it has been used as an antiseptic, antispasmodic,  vasodilator and to induce vomiting and fever

If you are suffering from any ailment or need medical advice, please see your General Practitioner

Other uses The flowers were once placed about grain stores to keep rodents away

Hazards Excessive consumption is believed to cause miscarriage.

In the UK, there is a waterborne sheep parasite called Liver Fluke that can affect humans. When harvesting from water, it is best to thoroughly cook any plant that is suspected of ever being below the water line in order to destroy any Liver Fluke that are present. Only plant material that has absolutely not been below the waterline or not had any possible contact with grazing animal faecal matter should be considered for eating uncooked

Importance to other species The flowers provide a source of nectar for pollinators 

Always stay safe when foraging. You need to be 100% sure of your identification, 100% sure that your foraged item is edible, and 100% sure that you are not allergic to it (it is good practice to always try a small amount of any new food you are consuming). If in doubt, leave it out!