- Corsican Mint
Mentha requienii or Corsican mint is among the smallest plants in the mint family. An extremely low-growing species, this herb only grows up to a height of 3 cm to 10 cm and bears tiny vividly green, oval-shaped leaves, which are anything between 2 mm and 7 mm in length. The leaves possess a potent mint scent. Corsica mint produces mauve hued blooms in July and August. The flowers of this species are pollinated by insects. This herb is indigenous to Corsica, from where it gets its common name. In addition, Corsican mint is native to France, Sardinia and mainland Italy.
Besides being cultivated for enhancing the show of gardens, Corsican mint, botanical name Mentha requienii, also has culinary uses. Possibly, this herb is most famous used to flavour crème de menthe. Corsica mint is available in many garden stores for people who desire to grow this plant in their gardens.
Generally when talk about mints many people visualize large, upright, leafy plants. However, Corsican mint is a small plant, almost hugging the ground, and it usually grows out instead of growing up. The leaves of this herb are tiny, measuring about half the dimension of a pinky nail. The leaves have a vivid green hue and are somewhat aromatic. When grown in places having temperate climatic conditions, this variety of mint is an evergreen plant. On the other hand, when grown in cooler places, Corsican mint usually dies during the winter months, only to resurface during spring. The plants flower ragingly during the summer. Corsican mint bears mauve-hued diminutive flowers.
One reason why Corsican mint is widely used in the form of a ground cover is that it has a wonderful aroma. This herb has an extremely rich, stimulating, mint-like scent. The plants release a pleasantly mint-like potent aroma when people trod over them. According to many, the aroma of the plant is more akin to pennyroyal. Owing to its wonderful scent, Corsican mint is a popular garden plant, especially in gardens where the emphasis is on smells. In addition, it is beneficial for other plants in the garden, as its scent repels many insects.
Similar to all other herbs, Corsican mint should always be cultivated organically for use in herbal remedies. It should never be grown using chemical fertilizers. Growing this species organically ensures that the plants do not absorb elevated amounts of toxic chemicals and, therefore, the remedies prepared with them also do not contain these harmful chemicals.
In folk medicine, Corsican mint has been employed in the form of an antiseptic, a febrifuge and a carminative. The plant has a mint flavour, which is loathed by rats and mice. Hence, traditionally, people strew the plant on the floor with a view to keep rats away.
In addition, you can also use Corsican mint for landscaping in the form of a bedding plant. When people walk on these plants, they release a pleasant minty aroma. Since the plants do not die even when people trample on them, they can also be employed to line pavements – growing freely between the stones that are used as steps. Dissimilar to several other varieties of cultivated mints, Corsican mint does not grow to any significant height and the plants have the aptitude to succeed in the shaded areas of your garden.
Nevertheless, the leaves of Corsican mint will rot if the soil has too much moisture. Therefore, it is advisable that you allow the plant enough time to dry between the waterings. However, do not allow the soil to dry too much because this herb is susceptible to droughts.
Together with pennyroyal, Corsican mint is believed to be a superior quality mints that is often grown alongside plants belonging to the brassica family, such as cauliflower, cabbage and broccoli. This herb emits an aroma that keeps away specific insects. At the same time, this plant may also improve the flavour of the plants it is grown with and also protects them from pests.
Corsican mint has many culinary uses, possibly the most famous being its use in the form of a flavouring agent in crème de menthe. Occasionally, this plant’s aroma is said to be akin to that of pennyroyal.
The leaves of Corsican mint can be consumed raw or after cooking. They have a potent aroma akin to that of peppermint/pennyroyal and are employed to flavour various types of salads, cooked items and even liqueurs. The leaves are also used to prepare an herbal tea.
Habitat and cultivation
Corsican mint is indigenous to Corsica, France, Sardinia and Italy. However, the species has now become naturalized in various parts of the world. In the south eastern regions of the United States, this herb grows rapidly and becomes invasive.
It has been found that Corsican mint thrives in nearly all types of soils and conditions, provided the soil is not very dry. Compared to other mint species, Corsican mint possesses the aptitude to grow in soils that are drier. In addition, this mint species also grows excellently in heavy clay soils. It has been found that the plant has a preference for a shady position. However, if you wish to obtain the essential oil of Corsican mint, it is important to grow the plant in a sunlit position. This mint variety can also grow in places having partial shade. Corsican mint can somewhat endure people walking over the species and it grows excellently even in cracks between the stepping and paving stones. It can also be grown as a lawn plant along with chamomile and thyme.
Even when the parent plant is killed due to severe frosting, the species possess the ability to sow on their own. The entire herb is potently aromatic and has a scent akin to that of peppermint. Butterflies and bees are drawn by the mauve-hued, aromatic tiny blooms of Corsican mint. It also serves as an excellent companion for nearby plants, especially tomatoes and cabbages, and helps them to remain free from invasions by insect pests. Even the browsing deer seldom trouble the plants belonging to this genus.
Corsican mint is generally propagated by its seeds, which are sown in a cold frame in spring. The seeds germinate quite rapidly and when the seedlings have become sufficiently large to be handled, prick them out individually with caution and plant them in separate pots. It should be noted that mentha species have a tendency to hybridize and, hence, you cannot rely on the seeds to produce true breeds. Even when the seeds do not hybridize, the seedlings are unlikely to be reliable or even homogenous. Therefore, the content of the therapeutic oils and other substances will vary.
If you are cultivating Corsican mint for any particular scent, it is advisable that you propagate the plants by means of root division, which is not only easy, but can be undertaken more or less any time. However, ideally division should be undertaken either in spring or during autumn, as this enables the plants to establish themselves more speedily. It has been found that practically any part of Corsican mint root can develop into a new plant. However, to ensure utmost increase in growth, you can divide the roots into segments not exceeding 3 cm in length. Moreover, you need to pot these divisions in a cold frame and place them in light shade. These root divisions will establish themselves very rapidly and you may transfer them outdoors during the summer. You may directly plant the larger divisions in their permanent locales outdoors.
While the essential oils of the different mint species have different chemical compositions, all of them enclose terpenes as well as the alcohol menthol, which is found in the form of esters and also in its free form. Different types of mints enclose dissimilar flavonoid coloring substances, in addition to triterpenoides. The essential oils are soluble in water as well as alcohol, which is utilized in distillation. The essential oil extracted from Corsican mint includes solid and liquid elements, besides containing a hydrocarbon that puts off menthol from forming crystals.
Irrespective of what is being said, extracting the essential oil of Corsican mint is usually not viable at home. Alternatively, you may prepare a standard infusion using the herb’s leaves. Add about three to four teaspoons of fresh leaves or one to two teaspoons of the dried out leaves to one cup of boiling water. Allow the solution to stand for approximately 10 minutes and, subsequently, strain the liquid. Drink this infusion to alleviate headaches, lower body temperature in fevers, and treat digestive disorders.
Side effects and cautions
Although Corsican mint possesses antiseptic properties, it turns out to be toxic when used in excessive amounts. Moreover, despite the fact that this herb belongs to the mint family, it is believed to be unfavourable for use during pregnancy. Pregnant women should never use Corsican mint in excessive amounts or even as an herbal remedy.