Bush Mint (one of several Australian species sometimes referred to as “Native Pennyroyal”) is a clumping, perennial groundcover herb, about midway between English peppermint and exotic pennyroyal. It is native to Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia.
This species is smaller and more delicate than other mints, but has a similar aroma and may be used in place of exotics and other natives. Try it in a salad, sauce, sorbet or fresh-leaf tisane. Other traditional uses include relief for cold & flu symptoms, insect repellent, and a fragrant ingredient in homemade scrubs and lotions. It can also be used as a tea.
Tiny, white flowers will attract bees in Summer — the plant may seed and die back if the weather gets really hot. We recommend harvesting through the cooler months, when mint grows most actively and their leaves are at their sweetest. Pluck fresh leaves, or prune whole stems, off the growing plant to harvest. You can dry the leaves for later use, but remember the flavour will change over time after harvesting. Native Pennyroyal Mint is best enjoyed fresh.
This plant grows in both sun or shade, and in a variety of soils, but does best in shady, boggy areas. If growing in sandy soil, be sure to water generously during warmer weather. Though less invasive than other mints, we still recommend keeping this fast grower in a pot.
Bush Mint creeps as it grows, and reaches up to 20cm in height. It’s easy to keep, offers generous yields and makes a wonderful addition to any herb garden or kitchen windowsill.
My Bush Mint just shrivelled up and died. Can I still revive it?
Don’t sweat! Mint plants often die when the weather gets very hot, only to come back again when the days cool down. To prevent this, keep your mint in the shade (or indoors) and water generously in the Summer.
Are native mints toxic?
Yes and no. Very large quantities of any substance can be bad for human health. However, no records of toxicity have been seen for Bush Mint, when consumed in reasonable amounts. While it’s important to exercise caution with every plant and plant extract (especially in essential oil form), also remember: “the dose makes the poison”.
What’s eating my Bush Mint?
Although mints are often touted as insect repellents in the garden, some insects — like caterpillars — will happily nibble away at the very fragrant leaves. If you suspect a caterpillar infestation, try an application of white oil, neem oil or DiPel (follow the instructions on the spray bottle).