The mints (Lamiaceae) are a plant family with over 7000 species that are represented in all climatic zones worldwide. There are also many well-known varieties in the local latitudes. The features are all similar.

Characteristics of the mint family

There are several characteristics by which the mint family can be recognized and which are similar to the same in all species:

  • there are over 7000 species
  • these are divided into 220 genera
  • most of these contain essential oils
  • sunny, warm, open location preferred
  • many native to the Mediterranean countries and the Near East
  • these are herbaceous plants
  • characteristic is square stem
  • Flowers look like lips
  • “Upper lip” of two fused petals
  • “Lower lip” three fused petals

There are usually four stamens in the flower. In addition, the mints have two carpels. These are fused and are divided into four chambers.

Note: The lamiaceae have been known to people as medicinal and aromatic plants for thousands of years, many of the plants are useful plants, but there are also many purely ornamental plants.

Well-known herbs of the mint family

There are several well-known examples of mints that can be assigned to the group of culinary herbs. These are many well-known medicinal herbs from the herb garden, which are often used as tasty spices in the kitchen.

Basilikum (Ocimum basilicum)

  • also called royal herb
  • popular kitchen herb
  • seven of the 65 species are cultivated for this purpose
  • already known in ancient Greece and Rome
  • tea herb popular in India
  • Attention poisonous for cats
  • Shrub basil is the best-known variety
  • aromatic fragrance
  • purple or white flowers
Tip: Other examples of species that are now very popular in local kitchens are lemon basil (Ocimum americanum) in desserts and Thai basil (Ocimum basilicum), which gives off a liquorice and anise-like smell.

Savory (Satureja hortensis)

  • also pepper herb, saturday
  • flowering in summer
  • blue-violet or soft pink flowers
  • Fruits are dark brown seeds
  • helps against skin problems and abdominal pain
  • tasty with bean dishes

Majoran (Origanum majorana)

  • subshrub
  • upright, bushy growing
  • pink and white flowers
  • Flowering period June to August
  • not hardy
  • non-toxic
  • evergreen

Oregano (Origanum vulgare)

  • also dost or wild marjoram
  • hardy perennial
  • is considered a typical pizza spice
  • only used dry in the kitchen
  • pink or red flowers
  • Flowering period from July to September
  • particularly suitable for rock gardens
  • comes from mountainous Mediterranean areas

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)

  • subshrub
  • evergreen
  • sparse growth
  • white, pink, blue or purple flowers
  • Flowering time March and April
  • needle-shaped leaves are used in cooking
Tip: The needle-shaped leaves are not only used for cooking, but also for relaxation, for example in a hot full bath.

Sage (Salvia officinalis)

  • True sage or kitchen sage
  • perennial plant
  • violet flowers
  • Flowers are edible
  • Leaves are silver gray to green
  • covered with light fluff
  • Medicinal and aromatic herbs
  • slightly toxic
Tip: Sage is already known from the old monastery gardens. Here the plant was mainly cultivated as a medicinal plant, helping with colds and stomach problems. In recent years, the spice has also been discovered more and more for the kitchen.

Thymian (Thymus vulgaris)

  • subshrub
  • woody inside
  • fragrant flowers
  • pink or purple
  • also cultivated as an ornamental plant
  • strong spicy scent
  • mainly used in Mediterranean cuisine
  • also known as a medicinal herb for the upper respiratory tract
  • many different varieties
  • popular with bees and bumblebees
Tip: The herbs from the mint family presented here should not be missing in a semi-natural and cottage garden, as they also attract many insects in addition to their use.

Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)

  • perennial
  • bushy growth
  • white flowers
  • in June to August
  • Flowers are edible
  • Leaves are used in the kitchen
  • taste slightly lemony
  • hardy

Lamiaceae as ornamental plants

Not only the popular kitchen herbs belong to the mint family, but also some examples of ornamental plants for the garden bed. Here these plants enhance garden beds in a lush cottage garden. The ornamental plants from the mint family also attract many bees and other beneficial insects. Some examples of fragrant plants are given below.

Buntnessel (Solenostemon scutellarioides)

  • perennial species
  • bushy and upright growth
  • Flowers are inconspicuous
  • variegated, multicolored leaves
  • frostempfindlich
  • cultivated as houseplants

Duftnessel (Agastache rugosa)

  • also known as Korean mint
  • perennial
  • bushy and upright growing
  • usually only short-lived
  • purple flowers from June to September
  • hardy
  • gives off a light, pleasant scent
  • is also often used in bouquets

Gundermann (Glechoma hederacea)

  • forest perennial
  • violet flowers
  • Flowering time in March and April
  • very easy to care for
  • flat ground cover
  • slightly toxic
  • hardy
  • wintergreen
Idea: Gundermann can often be found as grave plants on shady graves. The plant is also suitable as an underplanting under trees or shrubs.

Harfenstrauch (Plectranthus fruticosus)

  • also known as the Moth King
  • fragrant ornamental plant
  • subshrub
  • upright, bushy growth
  • purple and blue flowers
  • Flowering between February and May
  • frostempfindlich
  • Cultivation in the conservatory recommended

Kriechender Günsel (Ajuga reptans)

  • groundcover
  • easy-care
  • painkilling properties
  • purple and blue flowers
  • Flowering from April to June
  • native wild plant
  • hardy
  • wintergreen
  • sows itself
  • suitable for pond planting

Taubnessel (Lamium)

  • groundcover
  • suitable for pots and beds
  • different sorts
  • evergreen or deciduous
  • Leaves resemble those of nettles
  • have no stinging hairs
  • Flowering from April to September
  • white flowers
  • frosthart

Teakbaum (Tectona grandis)

  • best known for its wood
  • based in Asia
  • deciduous
  • up to 35 meters high
  • very shady
  • longitudinally fissured soft bark
  • Flowering between June and September
  • forms inedible stone fruits

Ysop (Hyssopus officinalis)

  • also known as Verbena or Beeweed
  • subshrub
  • dense, bushy growth
  • white, pink, blue and violet flowers
  • Flowering time between July and September
  • Can also be used as a medicinal plant or kitchen herb
  • gives off a strong scent
  • hardy

Zieste (Stachys)

  • popular foliage plant
  • many different types
  • can be annual and perennial
  • as perennials and subshrubs
  • Flower colors also vary depending on the species
  • as is the heyday
  • Wald-Ziest (Stachys sylvatica)
  • Acker-Ziest (Stachys arvensis)
  • both native here
Note: Even if there are native species mentioned above, they are of little importance for the local bedding cultivation. Here the large-flowered Ziest (Stachys grandiflora) and the Wollziest (Stachys byzantina) are cultivated.

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