Peppermint facts for kids
Quick facts for kidsPeppermint
|Peppermint (Mentha x piperita)|
|Mentha × piperita
The Peppermint is a hybrid plant of the mint family. It is originally from Europe, but grown and sold all over the world. It is a hybrid of watermint and spearmint. Carolus Linnaeus first described the plant in 1753, from samples that had been collected in England. He treated it as a species, but modern biology mostly treats it as a hybrid.
Peppermint generally grows best in moist, shaded locations, and expands by underground rhizomes. Young shoots are taken from old stocks and dibbled into the ground about 1.5 feet apart. They grow quickly and cover the ground with runners if it is permanently moist. For the home gardener, it is often grown in containers to restrict rapid spreading. It grows best with a good supply of water, without being water-logged, and planted in areas with part-sun to shade.
The leaves and flowering tops are used; they are collected as soon as the flowers begin to open and can be dried. The wild form of the plant is less suitable for this purpose, with cultivated plants having been selected for more and better oil content. They may be allowed to lie and wilt a little before distillation, or they may be taken directly to the still
Culinary and other uses
Fresh or dried peppermint leaves are often used alone in peppermint tea or with other herbs in herbal teas (tisanes, infusions). Peppermint is used for flavouring ice cream, candy, fruit preserves, alcoholic beverages, chewing gum, toothpaste, and some shampoos, soaps and skin care products.
Menthol activates cold-sensitive TRPM8 receptors in the skin and mucosal tissues, and is the primary source of the cooling sensation that follows the topical application of peppermint oil.
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Peppermint Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.