Lamiaceae, the Mint family, consists of about 200 genera and 3,200 species
worldwide, mostly perennial or annual herbs and shrubs (rarely trees). They are
usually easily recognizable by having square stems and opposite or whorled
leaves. Many of the species are aromatic, making them further recognizable.
Lamiaceae (formerly Labiatae) receives a lot of interest, as many members of the
family possess high economic and other useful qualities. These plants
characteristically bear essential oils in the form of their crushed foliage.
Despite their identifiable qualities, they are a family of great diversity and
The flowers of Lamiaceae are bilaterally symmetrical, have 5 united
sepals, 5 united petals, usually arranged so as to form an upper and often lower
lip, stamens are 2 to 4. All these parts attached at the base of the ovary. The
flowers grow in long clusters, heads, or interrupted whorls on the stem.
leaves vary from simple (typical in our area) to pinnately or palmately
dissected or compound, are either opposite or whorled (3 – 10 per whorl) and are
usually toothed. They are almost always aromatic (very rarely lacking an odor).
The leaves are either one–veined, pinnately veined, or palmately veined, and
either heart shaped (or close to it) or rounded at the base. As explained above,
the stems of this family have a unique square (4-sided) shape about them. The
fruit has 4 lobes, each forming a hard, single-seeded nutlet, rarely a
Guide to Identify Presented Species of the Mint
FLOWERS GROWING IN DENSE CLUSTERS ON
|Mentha spicata -
Stems single, erect, 30-100 cm tall. Ditches and
Flowers whitish, 2-4 mm long, tubular, 4-lobed, clustered in
dense, tall spikes.
Leaves opposite, broadly lance-shaped, sharp-toothed,
pointed, 2-7 cm long.
|Monarda fistulosa - Wild
Stems single, 30-70 cm tall, with minty odor.
Moderately dry, open sites.
Flowers pink-purple, tubular, 2-3 cm long, in
dense clusters above leafy bracts.
Leaves opposite, broadly lanceolate,
sharp-toothed, short-stalked, 2.5-8 cm long.
|Nepeta cataria - Catnip
Stems branched, 30-100 cm tall, short-grey-hairy. Meadows,
Flowers white with small purple dots, 10-15 mm long, in dense,
Leaves opposite, coarsely toothed, stalked, heart-shaped,
2.5-7 cm long.
|Prunella vulgaris -
Soft-hairy low plant, 5-30 cm tall. Moist, open to
shaded sites, plains-montane.
Flowers purple, tubular, 1-2 cm long, with a
hooded upper lip, in short spikes.
Leaves opposite, in few pairs, lance- to
egg-shaped, entire, stalked, 2-9 cm long.
FLOWERS SMALL, DENSELY CLUSTERED,
GROWING FROM UPPER LEAF AXILS
|Marrubium vulgare -
Plant 30-100 cm tall. Casual weed along roadsides
and disturbed habitats.
Flowers whitish, about 6 mm long, in dense, round
clusters from upper leaf axils.
Leaves opposite, thick, rounded, toothed and
coarsely wrinkled, 20-55 mm long.
|Mentha arvensis - Wild
Aromatic, glandular-dotted plant, 20-80 cm tall. Moist to
Flowers pink-white, 4-7 mm long, 4-lobed, in dense clusters from
upper leaf axils.
Leaves opposite, 2-8 cm long, lance-shaped, sharp-toothed,
FLOWERS FEWER, GROWING SEPARATELY FROM
UPPER LEAF AXILS
|Lamium amplexicaule - Henbit
Slender annual, 5-15 cm tall, with creeping base.
Weed in disturbed areas.
Flowers pink-purple, 12-18 mm long, hooded,
2-lipped, from upper leaf axils.
Leaves opposite, rounded, coarsely
round-toothed, about 1.5 cm long.