Habitat: Rainforest margins, woodland margins
Flowering Time: Summer
Description and uses:
There are a few Native Mints here in Oz. There’s River Mint (Mentha australis), and Slender Mint (Mentha dimenica). Then there’s Cut Leaf Mint (Prosanthera incisa) and Round Leaf Mint (Prosanthera rotundifolia) which don’t occur locally occur locally, but they grow so well in people’s gardens that they’ve become a kind of bushfood staple in some restaurants. There are a few ‘Mint Bushes’ too, but I won’t cover them here (they’re not ‘minty’ enough)!
Cut Leaf Mint also has the nickname of ‘Native Thyme’ and I’ve heard Round Leaf Mint called ‘Native Rosemary’. Though I’ve also heard reputable folks getting them the other way around. That’s why its good to use the taxonomic names.
The names are a give away for describing the Prosantheras, they’re based on the leaf which is either round (routndifolia) or toothed or ‘cut’ (incisa). Apart from the leaves, the plants are quite similar. They both are very pretty when their pink/purple flowers cover the bush. The bushes are highly aromatic, just brushing your hand through them will leave it with a beautiful minty smell.
These mints are used herbally in the same way that the European Mints are used as remedies.
River Mint (Mentha australis) was the talk of the town at one stage. Every restaurant wanted it. That popularity seems to have waned of late with the fickle taste-buds of chefs having been lured by the next big thing.
River Mint, as its name implies, grows in water. I’ve never seen it in the wild though, but that’s not unusual. Once again, use it as you would European Mints.