Herb: Water Mint

Latin name: Mentha aquatica

Synonyms: Mentha hirsuta

Family: Labiatae

Medicinal use of Water Mint:

The leaves are anodyne, antiseptic, antispasmodic, astringent, carminative, cholagogue, diaphoretic, emetic, refrigerant, stimulant, stomachic, tonic and vasodilator. A tea made from the leaves has traditionally been used in the treatment of fevers, headaches, digestive disorders and various minor ailments. It is also used as a mouth-wash and a gargle for treating sore throats, ulcers, bad breath etc. The leaves are harvested as the plant comes into flower and can be dried for later use. The essential oil in the leaves is antiseptic, though it is toxic in large doses.

Description of the plant:


100 cm
(3 1/4 foot)

July to


Habitat of the herb:

Swamps, fen, marshes, near rivers, streams and ponds, in wet woods.

Edible parts of Water Mint:

Leaves - raw or cooked. A strong distinctive peppermint-like fragrance. Used as a flavouring in salads or cooked foods. The leaves are too pungent for most people to use as a flavouring. A herb tea is made from the leaves.

Other uses of the herb:

The plant repels flies, mice and rats. It has a pleasant, fresh scent and was formerly used as a strewing herb and has been strewn in granaries to keep mice and rats off the grain. The plant, harvested before flowering, yields about 0.8% essential oil. The fresh or dried plant is very good when used in herbal baths and can also be used in herb pillows.

Propagation of Water Mint:

Seed - sow spring in a cold frame. Germination is usually fairly quick. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and plant them out in the summer. Mentha species are very prone to hybridisation and so the seed cannot be relied on to breed true. Even without hybridisation, seedlings will not be uniform and so the content of medicinal oils etc will vary. When growing plants with a particular aroma it is best to propagate them by division. Division can be easily carried out at almost any time of the year, though it is probably best done in the spring or autumn to allow the plant to establish more quickly. Virtually any part of the root is capable of growing into a new plant. Larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. However, for maximum increase it is possible to divide the roots up into sections no more than 3cm long and pot these up in light shade in a cold frame. They will quickly become established and can be planted out in the summer.

Cultivation of the herb:

Swamps, fen, marshes, near rivers, streams and ponds, in wet woods.

Known hazards of Mentha aquatica:

Although no records of toxicity have been seen for this species, large quantities of some members of this genus, especially when taken in the form of the extracted essential oil, can cause abortions so some caution is advised.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.