As there are three different types of wild mint in the 22 foraged botanicals found in the The Botanist Gin, I thought I would introduce you to a species of the wild mint found in South Africa. Mentha translating from Latin to mint, and longifolia meaning long-leafed.
This musky, pungent herb is both culinary and medicinal, used fresh and dried in food and drink, popular for its essential oil and it is used as a decoction to help treat stomach ailments, nausea, coughs, colds, asthma, cramps and indigestion.
Mentha longifolia is one of four indigenous varieties of mint found in South Africa and there are three subspecies of longifolia – capensis, polyadena and wisiii. They grow all over South Africa in damp, wet areas like marshes and riverbanks.
In summer they produce tiny white or light mauve flowers at the end of a spiked tip which attract butterflies and bees. In good growing conditions where they can get their feet wet in a wind protected environment, they can grow as tall as 1.5m in height, and its a complete joy walking past these in the wild and catching the scent of their minty fragrance as you brush past them. They thrive from a little pruning as it will encourage their growth.