Other Names: Wild basil, Wild Mint, Virginia-thyme, Torrey’s Mountain-mint
Caution: Not for use by pregnant women, may be harmful to fetus.
Several species in our area. Perennial herb native to Northern America, Canada, Virginia to New England, north to North Dakota, south to Tennessee, Georgia. Found growing on gravelly shores, meadows, dry to wet thickets, roadsides, open woods.
Cultivation Mountain-mint is an easily grown plant, it succeeds in most well-drained soils, including dry ones, and prefers a sunny position.
Plants are up to 5 ft. tall, usually branched on the upper half, growing from slender rhizomes (underground stems) usually in clusters. The lance to broad -shaped leaves are 1-2 inches long and light green turning to almost white as plant matures, slightly serrated, but usually smooth. Blooming in late summer to early fall, flowers are arranged in round, flat, tight clusters at the top of the plant. The 1/2 inch long flowers are whitish or pale lavender, the lower lip spotted with purple. Gather tops and leaves when flowers bloom and dry for later herb use.
Mountain-mint is edible and medicinal, raw or cooked the flower buds and leaves are edible and have a hot, spicy, mint-like flavor that makes a great spice or seasoning for meat. The fresh or dried leaves are brewed into a refreshing mint-like medicinal herb tea that is alterative (for that run down feeling), analgesic, antiseptic, diaphoretic, carminative, emmenagogue and tonic. The medicinal tea is used in alternative medicine in the treatment of menstrual disorders, indigestion, mouth sores and gum disease, colic, coughs, colds, chills and fevers.
A strong decoction is medicinal poured over festering wounds. Crushed flowers are placed on tooth ache and almost instantly kills pain. Very aromatic the herb is used in potpourri or burned as incense. Placed in a muslin bag it can be used as bath additive, and is said to be very soothing to irritated skin. Will freshen laundry when used in the dryer. Thrown in a drawer or trunk it will not only freshen clothing and blankets, but keep moths away. Sprinkle on carpets to freshen the whole house and is said to be a good natural insecticide, the plant does repel insects and is good for use in the garden. Crushed flowers are rubbed on clothing to repel insects.
This herb was considered powerful medicine and used by medicine men to revive the dead. Several native American tribes claim that the fresh crushed flowers, when stuffed up the nose of a person near death will revive them.