Herb: Horse Mint

Latin name: Monarda punctata

Family: Labiatae

Medicinal use of Horse Mint:

Horse mint was traditionally taken by several native North American Indian tribes to treat nausea and vomiting, and to encourage perspiration during colds. It was also applied externally as a poultice to treat swellings and rheumatic pains. Nowadays it is used primarily to treat digestive and upper respiratory tract problems. The leaves are carminative, diaphoretic, diuretic, emmenagogue, rubefacient, stimulant, stomachic and vesicant. An infusion of the leaves is used in the treatment of flatulence, nausea, indigestion, catarrh in the upper respiratory tract, and to induce sweating and promote urination. The herb is principally used externally as a rubefacient, applied as a poultice it helps to lessen the pain of arthritic joints by increasing the flow of blood in the area and thereby hastening the flushing out of toxins. The leaves can be harvested before the plant flowers, or they can be harvested with the flowering stems. They can be used fresh or dried. The plant is a rich source of the medicinal essential oil "thymol", which is antiseptic. The plant has been commercially cultivated for its essential oil, though this is now produced synthetically. Thymol is also an effective hookworm remedy, but must be ingested in such large quantities that it can prove fatal to the patient.

Description of the plant:


75 cm
(2 feet)

July to


Habitat of the herb:

Dry sandy soils in fields on or near to the coastal plain.

Edible parts of Horse Mint:

Leaves - raw or cooked. A strong aromatic taste, they are used as a flavouring in salads and cooked foods, and also as an aromatic tea.

Other uses of the herb:

The plant has a pleasing aroma and has been hung in the house as an incense.

Propagation of Horse Mint:

Seed - sow mid to late spring in a cold frame. Germination usually takes place within 10 - 40 days at 20C. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out into their permanent positions in early summer. The seed can also be sown in situ in late summer in areas where the winters are not too severe and will produce larger plants. Cuttings of soft basal shoots in spring. Harvest the shoots with plenty of underground stem when they are about 8 - 10cm above the ground. Pot them up into individual pots and keep them in light shade in a cold frame or greenhouse until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the summer. Division in spring or autumn. Large divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. We have found that it is better to pot up the smaller divisions and grow them on in light shade in a cold frame until they are well established before planting them out in late spring or early summer.

Cultivation of the herb:

Dry sandy soils in fields on or near to the coastal plain.

Known hazards of Monarda punctata:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.