Mentha spicata - Spearmint

Family: Lamiaceae (Labiatae)
Wetland Indictor Status: OBL

General Species Description

This perennial herb smells "minty", grows from creeping rhizomes, contains a square erect or creeping stem with hairs that are 30-100cm tall. Blooming time is June to August.


The leaves are opposite, attaching directly to the stem, 2-8cm long, 6-40mm wide, narrow-oval to elliptic-oval, gradually tapering to a pointed tip and sharply toothed along the margins.


The flowers are 3-5mm long, lavender, containing a 5-lobed, tube-shaped calyx and a 4-lobed, tube-shaped corolla. The four stamens are not longer than the petals. Inflorescence are broad, tapering ternminal spikes 3-12cm long, that are originating in leaf axils. This plant blooms from June-August.


Fruits are lacking.


The mentha spicata grows in moist places such as along shorelines and stream banks. This herb can grow in low elevations upward into the higher elevations in the mountains. Associated species are the Juncas and Veronicas.


Native to Europe but is wide spread in temperate North America.

Similar Species

The bugleweeds (lycopus americannus and Lycopus uniflorus) are both in the mint family but lack the "minty" odor and having fewer, smaller flowers (2-4mm) that are always whitte and arranged into two segmennts. The stamens of bugleweeds don't extend beyond the petals.

Ecological Value

This plant is habitat for insects.

Human Value

Uses include commercial uses in gum, liquers, gum and candy. It is also used as a remedy for stomach and intestinal gas and is also used as a deodorant.


Cooke,S.S.,ed. 1997. A Field Guide to the Common Wetland Plants of Western Washington and Northwestern Oregon. Seattle Audobon Society and Washington Native Plant Society. Seattle Audobon Society, Seattle WA, 417pp. Pojar and Mackinnon. Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast. Redmond,WA: Lone Pine Publishing,1994.

This page was created by: Chad Smith, August 1998

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