Mentha arvensis L.

ginger mint

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New England Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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North America Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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Facts About

Ginger mint has a circumboreal distribution, and is widespread in North America. It can be rather weedy, especially in moist habitats. It was widely used by Native Americans as a medicinal and culinary herb and as a fragrance.

Habitat

Anthropogenic (man-made or disturbed habitats), shores of rivers or lakes, wetland margins (edges of wetlands)

Characteristics

Habitat
  • terrestrial
  • wetlands
New England state
  • Connecticut
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont
Flower petal color
  • blue to purple
  • white
Leaf type
the leaves are simple (i.e., lobed or unlobed but not separated into leaflets)
Leaf arrangement
opposite: there are two leaves per node along the stem
Leaf blade edges
the edge of the leaf blade has teeth
Flower symmetry
there are two or more ways to evenly divide the flower (the flower is radially symmetrical)
Number of sepals, petals or tepals
  • there are five petals, sepals, or tepals in the flower
  • there are four petals, sepals, or tepals in the flower
Fusion of sepals and petals
the petals or the sepals are fused into a cup or tube
Stamen number
4
Fruit type (general)
the fruit is dry but does not split open when ripe
Show All Characteristics
  • Clonal plantlets
    Bulbils
    the plant does not appear to have bulbils
    Bulblets replace flowers
    there are no bulblets where the flowers are located
  • Flowers
    Calyx symmetry
    • there are two or more ways to evenly divide the calyx (the calyx is radially symmetrical)
    • there is only one way to evenly divide the calyx (the calyx is bilaterally symmetrical)
    Carpels fused
    the carpels are fused to one another
    Cleistogamous flowers
    there are no cleistogamous flowers on the plan
    Corolla palate
    no
    Corona lobe length
    0 mm
    Epicalyx
    the flower does not have an epicalyx
    Epicalyx number of parts
    0
    Filament surface
    the filament is smooth, with no hairs or scales
    Flower description
    the flower has a superior ovary, and lacks a hypanthium
    Flower number
    At least 4
    Flower petal color
    • blue to purple
    • white
    Flower reproductive parts
    • the flower has both pollen- and seed-producing parts
    • the flower has either only pollen- or only seed-producing parts
    Flower symmetry
    there are two or more ways to evenly divide the flower (the flower is radially symmetrical)
    Flowers sunken into stem
    no
    Form of style
    the style is branched above the base
    Fused stamen clusters
    NA
    Fusion of sepals and petals
    the petals or the sepals are fused into a cup or tube
    Horns in hoods (Asclepias)
    NA
    Hypanthium
    the flower does not have a hypanthium
    Inflorescence one-sided
    the flowers are arrayed in a spiral around the inflorescence axis or branches, or occur singly, or in several ranks
    Inner tepals (Rumex)
    NA
    Marks on petals
    there are no noticeable marks on the petals
    Nectar spur
    the flower has no nectar spurs
    Number of carpels
    2
    Number of sepals, petals or tepals
    • there are five petals, sepals, or tepals in the flower
    • there are four petals, sepals, or tepals in the flower
    Number of styles
    1
    Ovary position
    the ovary is above the point of petal and/or sepal attachment
    Petal and sepal arrangement
    the flower includes two cycles of petal- or sepal-like structures
    Petal and sepal colors
    • blue to purple
    • white
    Petal appearance
    the petals are thin and delicate, and pigmented (colored other than green or brown)
    Petal folds or pleats
    the petals of the flower do not have folds or plaits
    Petal hairs (Viola)
    NA
    Petal length
    4–7 mm
    Petal number
    4–5
    Petal tip shape
    the petal tip is retuse (with a blunt or rounded apex and a notch at the center)
    Petal tips (Cuscuta)
    NA
    Reproductive system
    all the flowers have both carpels and stamens (synoecious)
    Scales inside corolla
    no
    Sepal and petal color
    the sepals are different from the petals
    Sepal appearance
    the sepals are green or brown, and leaf-like in texture
    Sepal appendages
    the sepals do not have appendages on them
    Sepal appendages (Oenothera)
    NA
    Sepal length
    1.5–2.5 mm
    Sepal number
    5
    Sepal shape
    the sepal outline is roughly triangular
    Sepals fused only to sepals
    the sepals are fused to each other (not other flower parts), at least near their bases
    Stamen attachment
    the stamens are attached at or near the bases of the petals or tepals
    Stamen lengths differ
    the stamens are all approximately the same length
    Stamen number
    4
    Stamen relative length
    anything
    Stamens fused
    the stamens are not attached to one another
    Staminodes
    there are no staminodes on the flower
    Stigma position
    the stigmas are positioned at the tip of the style
    Style petal-like
    the styles are not petal-like
    Umbel flower reproductive parts
    NA
    Upper lip of bilabiate corolla
    • NA
    • the upper lip of the bilabiate corolla has one lobe
    • the upper lip of the bilabiate corolla has two lobes
  • Fruits or seeds
    Achene relative orientation
    NA
    Achene shape
    NA
    Achene surface (Polygonum)
    NA
    Achene type
    NA
    Berry color
    NA
    Capsule color (Viola)
    NA
    Capsule ribs
    NA
    Capsule splitting
    NA
    Fruit (pyxis) dehiscence
    NA
    Fruit beak length
    0 mm
    Fruit features (Brassicaceae)
    NA
    Fruit locules
    four
    Fruit type (general)
    the fruit is dry but does not split open when ripe
    Fruit type (specific)
    the fruit is a schizocarp (when dry it splits into sections, each holding one or more seeds)
    Legumes (Fabaceae)
    NA
    Mericarp length
    0.8–1 mm
    Mericarp segment shape (Desmodium)
    NA
    Other markings on berry
    NA
    Ovary stipe
    the ovary or fruit does not have a stipe
    Placenta arrangement
    the plant has axile placentation, in which the ovules are attached where the septa of a compound ovary are united, usually on the central axis, or to the septa themselves
    Rows of seeds in fruit (Brassicaceae)
    NA
    Schizocarpic fruit compression
    the fruit is not flattened
    Schizocarpic fruit segments
    4
    Seed number
    1–4
    Septum in fruit (Brassicaceae)
    NA
    Wings on fruit
    the fruit does not have wings on it
    prickles on fruits
    the fruits do not have thorn-like defensive structures
  • Glands or sap
    Glands on leaf blade
    the leaf blades have glandular dots or scales
    Sap
    the sap is clear and watery
    Sap color
    the sap is clear
  • Growth form
    Growth form
    the plant is an herb (it has self-supporting stems)
    Lifespan
    the plant lives more than two years
    Parasitism
    the plant is not parasitic
    Plant color
    the leaves or young stems of the plant are green
    Spines on plant
    the plant has no spines
    Underground organs
    the plant has a rhizome (a horizontal underground stem with roots growing from it)
  • Leaves
    Bracteole number (Apiaceae)
    0
    Bracts in plantain (Plantago)
    NA
    Final leaf segment length (compound lvs only)
    0 mm
    Final leaf segment length to width ratio (compound lvs only)
    0
    Final leaf segment width (compound lvs only)
    0 mm
    Floral bracts
    the flower has one or more bracts associated with it
    Hairs on underside of leaf
    • the underside of the leaf is fuzzy or hairy
    • the underside of the leaf is not hairy, or it has very few hairs
    Hairs on upper side of leaf
    • the upper side of the leaf is fuzzy or hairy
    • the upper side of the leaf is not hairy, or it has very few hairs
    Leaf arrangement
    opposite: there are two leaves per node along the stem
    Leaf blade base
    the leaf has a distinct leaf stalk (petiole)
    Leaf blade base shape
    the base of the leaf blade is rounded
    Leaf blade edges
    the edge of the leaf blade has teeth
    Leaf blade length
    20–80 mm
    Leaf blade shape
    • the leaf blade is orbicular (roughly circular, as wide as long)
    • the leaf blade is ovate (widest below the middle and broadly tapering at both ends)
    Leaf blade surface colors
    the upper side of the leaf blade is relatively uniform in color
    Leaf blade texture
    the leaf blade is herbaceous (has a leafy texture)
    Leaf blade width
    6–40 mm
    Leaf duration
    the leaves drop off in winter (or they whither but persist on the plant)
    Leaf form
    the leaves are green, with an expanded blade and a leaf-like texture
    Leaf spines
    there are no spines on the leaf edges
    Leaf stalk
    the leaves have leaf stalks
    Leaf teeth and lobes
    the leaf blade margin has forward-pointing teeth
    Leaf tip
    • the tip of the leaf blade is acuminate (tapers to a long, thin point)
    • the tip of the leaf blade is acute (sharply pointed)
    Leaf type
    the leaves are simple (i.e., lobed or unlobed but not separated into leaflets)
    Leaf variation
    the leaves are nearly similar in size, prominence of teeth, and length of stalks throughout the stem
    Leaflet number
    0
    Leaves per node
    there are two leaves per node along the stem
    Pinnately compound leaf type
    NA
    Specific leaf type
    the leaves are simple (i.e., lobed or unlobed but not separated into leaflets)
    Stipels
    NA
    Stipule features
    NA
    Stipules
    there are no stipules on the plant
  • Place
    Habitat
    • terrestrial
    • wetlands
    New England state
    • Connecticut
    • Maine
    • Massachusetts
    • Rhode Island
    • Vermont
    Specific habitat
    • edges of wetlands
    • man-made or disturbed habitats
    • shores of rivers or lakes
  • Scent
    Plant odor
    the plant has a pleasant smell, for example anise, fruit, mint or resin
  • Stem, shoot, branch
    Branched tendrils
    NA
    Flowering stem cross-section
    the flowering stem is roughly square
    Hair between stem nodes
    • the stem has hairs between the nodes
    • the stem has no hairs between the nodes
    Hooked hairs on stem between nodes
    no
    Leaves on stem
    there is at least one full leaf above the base of the flowering stem
    Plant height
    15–120 cm
    Stem hair distribution
    the hairs on the stem are mainly found on the edges or angles of the stem
    Stem orientation
    the stems are upright or angled outwards
    Stem spacing
    the plant is solitary, or a few plants are growing together
    Tendril origin
    NA
    Tendrils
    the plant does not have tendrils

Wetland Status

Usually occurs in wetlands, but occasionally in non-wetlands. (Wetland indicator code: FACW)

New England Distribution and Conservation Status

Distribution

Connecticut
present
Maine
present
Massachusetts
present
New Hampshire
absent
Rhode Island
present
Vermont
present

Conservation Status

Exact status definitions can vary from state to state. For details, please check with your state.

Massachusetts
unranked (S-rank: SNR)

Native to North America?

No

Sometimes Confused With

Mentha canadensis:
leaf blades mostly 1.7-3.3 times as long as wide, calyx 2-3 mm long with lobes mostly 0.7-0.9 mm long, and fresh plants with pennyroyal or peppermint odor (vs. M. arvensis, with leaf blades 1.3-2.3 times as long as wide, calyx 1.5-2.5 mm long with lobes 0.5-0.8 mm long, and fresh plants with a sweet fruit odor).

Synonyms

  • Mentha arvensis L. var. parietariaefolia Becker
  • Mentha gentilis L.
  • Mentha variegata Sole

Family

Lamiaceae

Genus

Mentha

Notes on Subspecies and Varieties in New England

Our subspecies is Mentha arvensis L. ssp. parietariaefolia (Becker) Briq.

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Information from Dichotomous Key of Flora Novae Angliae

2.  Mentha arvensis L. ssp. parietariaefolia (Becker) Briq. E

ginger mint. Mentha arvensis L. var. parietariaefolia Becker; M. gentilis L.; M. variegata Sole • CT, MA, ME, RI, VT. Swamps, wetland borders, shorelines, about dwellings. The name Mentha gentilis has long been considered to apply to hybrids between M. arvensis and M. spicata. However, the type of that name has been shown to be a pollen-sterile clone of M. arvensis (treated as ssp. parietariaefolia). This plant sometimes has white-spotted leaves due to a 
viral infection.

1×2. Mentha aquatica × Mentha arvensis Mentha ×‌verticllata L. is a rare mint hybrid known from CT, VT. It is variable (like many mint hybrids), and the inflorescence varies from subverticillate to subcapitate. However, the verticillasters are most often subtended by bracts that ± resemble foliage leaves (at least the lower), so the hybrid is most often confused with species like M. arvensis and M. canadensis. It is normally a sterile, pubescent plant with a calyx 2.5–3.5 (–4) mm long.

2×5. Mentha arvensis × Mentha spicata Mentha ×‌gracilis Sole is an infrequent mint hybrid known from CT, MA, ME, NH, RI, VT. It has an inflorescence somewhat similar to Mentha canadensis in that the lower verticillasters of flowers are subtended by scarcely reduced leaves; however, the bracts become more highly reduced and the inflorescence often becomes somewhat congested in the upper 2 or 3 verticillasters. It differs in that the calyx is 2–3.5 mm long, with lobes 0.8–1.2 mm long, with a glabrous basal, connate portion, and the plants are sterile (vs. calyx 2–3 mm long, with lobes mostly 0.7–0.9 mm long, with a pubescent basal, connate portion, and plants fertile in M. canadensis). Further, the hybrids are often tinged with red. This plant has long gone by the names M. gentilis and M. cardiaca. The former name applies to a species (see above) and the latter name is a superfluous synonym of this hybrid.