How to Identify Members of the Mint Family

Catnip, Creeping Charlie, Heal-all, Horehound, Pennyroyal, Bee Balm, Lemon Balm, Basil, Thyme, Wild Marjoram (also known as Wild Oregano), are just a few members of the mint family. This long list also includes, of course, peppermint and all its scrumptious variations such as chocolate mint, lemon mint, apple mint and for the cocktail crowd, mojito mint.

As big as the mint family is, it is also one of the easiest species to identify. Here are the three things to look for.

1. They’re all squares. Members of the mint family all have square stems which can be easily discovered by rolling the stem between your fingers so you can feel the four flat sides meeting at right angles. Doing this with your eyes closed while murmuring, “Yes, yes, a member of the *Labiaceae family if I’m not mistaken” is sure to impress your friends. Especially those with pale green thumbs.

2. Opposites attract. Each pair of leaves emerge side by side but on exact opposite sides of the stem.

3. They’ll give you lip. All mint blossoms produce “lipped” flowers shaped like open mouths. The upper and lower lips vary in size depending on the species. *The Latin name for the mint family is ‘Labiaceae‘ which translates quite simply to “lipped”.

Keep these three things in mind and finding members of the mint family will be as easy as making a real mojito.

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