to 0.6m by 0.5m. Calamint
is an erect, bushy plant with
square stems, rarely more than a foot high, bearing pairs of
opposite leaves, which, like the stems, are downy with soft hairs.
The flowers bloom in July and August, and are somewhat inconspicuous,
drooping gracefully before expansion: the corollas are of a light
The plant grows by waysides and in hedges,
and is not uncommon, especially in dry places. It may be cultivated
as a hardy perennial, propagated by seeds sown outdoors in
April, by cuttings of side shoots in cold frames in spring,
or by division of roots in October and April.
Distribution and habitat:
Woodland Garden; Dappled Shade; Cultivated Beds
i found in Western Europe, including Britain,
from France and W. Germany south to Spain, Algeria and N. Syria.
The name of the genus, Calamintha
, is derived from
the Greek Kalos
(excellent because of the ancient
belief in its power to drive away serpents and the dreaded
basilisk - the fabled king of the serpents, whose very glance
It contains a camphoraceous, volatile, stimulating oil in commonwith
the other mints. This is distilled by water, but its virtues
are better extracted by rectified spirit.
Edible Uses: Condiment; Tea.
A sweet and aromatic
tea is made from the leaves. Very refreshing. Leaves - used
as a flavouring in cooked dishes. Pleasantly pungent and strongly aromatic,
the flavour is said to resemble a cross between mint and marjoram.
Calamint was commonly used as a medicinal herb in medieval
times, though is little used by modern herbalists. It has
very similar properties to lesser calamint (C. nepeta) though
is milder in its actions. It is sometimes cultivated as a
medicinal herb for household use. The whole plant is aromatic
The leaves are harvested in July as the plant comes into
flower and are dried for storage. An infusion is beneficial
in cases of fevers, flatulent colic and weaknesses of the
stomach, it is also used to treat depression, insomnia and
painful menstruation. Its expectorant action
makes it a good cough and cold remedy and it is of value
for treating mild respiratory infections. It is best mixed
with other herbs, especially yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
and Thyme (Thymus vulgaris). Calamint should not be prescribed
for pregnant women since in excess it can cause a miscarriage.