Mentha x gracilis
- Name also: Gingermint, Redmint, Scotchmint, Scotch Spearmint, Golden Apple Mint, Little-leaved Mint
- Family: Mint Family – Lamiaceae (Labiatae)
- Growing form: Perennial herb. Rhizome creeping, quite thick, with short runners.
- Height: 30–70 cm (12–28 in.). Stem quite erect, branched, 4-edged, scantly haired, shiny, dark reddish.
- Flower: Corolla slightly zygomorphic, reddish, approx. 5 mm (0.2 in.) long, fused, 4-lobed, glabrous. Uppermost lobe broader than the rest, with notched tip. Calyx regular (actinomorphic), 5-lobed, grooveless, clearly 5-veined, often abundantly hairy. Lobes narrowly triangular. Stamens usually lacking, or sometimes 4, always shorter than corolla. Pistil often lacking, fused, 2 fused carpels, body projecting from corolla. Flowers in whorled axillary groups, on top small leaf rosette.
- Leaves: Opposite, short-stemmed. Leaf blade quite elliptic, round-based, with tapering tips, hairy, rarely sharp and straggle-toothed.
- Fruit: Does not develop or rarely solitary 4-sectioned schizocarps.
- Habitat: Gardens, potato fields, banks, roadsides, waste ground, walls, yards. Culinary herb, sometimes wild.
- Flowering time: August–September.
Ginger mints typically grow around old inhabited areas. There’s no point losing your cool if the plant that you found in the croft wall doesn’t want to be classified, not even with a botanist’s assistance, because ginger mints are a very difficult group of plants to identify. Ginger mint is the species-like name for a cross between corn mint (M. arvensis) and spearmint (M. spicata). Both parent species are known for their diversity, so there are a whole group of different kinds of progenies. Ginger mints are usually sterile, but they spread well enough with runners. A stand can fend for itself and survive for years after it has been abandoned. Both deliberately planted and root-ball plants in garden bushes and perennials have spread far. Clones of the same recognizable plant can eventually spread out over a great distance. There are three types of ginger mint hybrid in Finland: var. arrhenii, var. hirtella and var. parviflora. Finland was split between Sweden and Russia in 1743, and the border can still be seen in the spread of ginger mint: some are found only on the Russian side of the old border, and some only on the Swedish side.
Mints are versatile, useful plants. Everyone knows that they are used in cooking and for making tea, but they are also used successfully medicinally, even as poison. The active ingredients in mint, menthol and karvol, are not completely safe if they are consumed in large doses, but there is no problem if they are used normally. Menthol is probably best known as a flavouring in chewing gum and cigarettes in the same way that peppermint (Mentha × piperita) is famous as a tea. Additionally, spearmint (M. spicata) is cultivated to be used in sauces, jellies and salads, as are horse mint (M. longifolia) which is used culinarily and apple mint (M. suaveolens), which is used as a kitchen herb.