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Mentha spicata (Spear Mint or Spearmint; syn. K. burkhardtis) is a species of mint probably native to much of Europe and southwest Asia, though its exact natural range is uncertain due to extensive early cultivation. It grows in wet soils.
It is a herbaceous rhizomatous perennial plant growing 30–100 cm tall, with variably hairless to hairy stems and foliage, and a wide-spreading fleshy underground rhizome. The leaves are 5–9 cm long and 1.5–3 cm broad, with a serrated margin. The flowers are produced in slender spikes, each flower pink or white, 2.5–3 mm long and broad.
Hybrids involving spearmint include Mentha × piperita (Peppermint; hybrid with Mentha aquatica), Mentha × gracilis (Ginger Mint, syn. M. cardiaca; hybrid with Mentha arvensis), and Mentha × villosa (Large Apple Mint, hybrid with Mentha suaveolens).
The name ‘spear’ mint derives from the pointed leaf tips.
Spearmint is grown for its aromatic and carminative oil, referred to as oil of spearmint. It grows well in nearly all temperate climates. Gardeners often grow it in pots or planters due to its invasive spreading roots. The plant prefers partial shade, but can flourish in full sun to mostly shade. Spearmint is best suited to loamy soils with plenty of organic material. Spearmint leaves can be used whole, chopped, or dried. The leaves lose their aromatic appeal after the plant flowers.
The cultivar Mentha spicata ‘Nana’, the Nana mint of Morocco, possesses a clear, pungent, but mild aroma and is an essential ingredient of Touareg Tea.
Spearmint is an ingredient of mojito, the traditional Cuban cocktail. It is used as a flavouring for toothpaste and confectionery, and is sometimes added to shampoos and soaps. In herbalism, spearmint is steeped as tea for treatment of stomach ache.
Recent research has shown that Spearmint tea may be used as a treatment for mild hirsutism in women. Its anti-androgenic properties reduce the level of free testosterone in the blood, while leaving total testosterone and DHEA unaffected.