mint the common name of most plants of the genus Mentha. There are about two dozen species, and many hundreds of varieties. As Deni Bown (1988) remarks in a graceful essay on mint, we are faced by ‘a medley of hybrids and cultivars, often of uncertain origin, with characteristics of growth, flavour and aroma which may change according to conditions’.
A broad division, albeit with rough edges, may be made between spearmint and its close companions, the subject of this entry, and peppermint, which has its own special characteristics. See also pennyroyal, treated apart since it has its own distinctive common name.