Mentha spicata (Spear Mint or Spearmint) is a species of mint native to much of Europe and southwest Asia.
It is a herbaceous rhizomatous perennial plant growing 30?100 cm tall, with variably hairless to hairy stems and foliage, and a wide-spreading fleshy underground rhizome. The leaves are 5?9 cm long and 1.5?3 cm broad, with a serrated margin. Spearmint produces flowers in slender spikes, each flower pink or white, 2.5?3 mm long and broad.
Spearmint is grown for its aromatic and carminative oil, referred to as oil of spearmint. Oil of spearmint contains R-(?)-carvone, which gives it its distinctive smell. It grows well in nearly all temperate climates. Gardeners often grow it in pots or planters due to its invasive spreading roots. The plant prefers partial shade, but can flourish in full sun to mostly shade. Spearmint is best suited to loamy soils with plenty of organic material. Spearmint leaves can be used whole, chopped, dried and ground, frozen, preserved in salt, sugar, sugar syrup, alcohol, oil, or dried. The leaves lose their aromatic appeal after the plant flowers. It can be dried by cutting just before, or right (at peak) as the flowers open, about 1/2 to 3/4 the way down the stalk (leaving smaller shoots room to grow). There is some dispute as to what drying method works best; some prefer different materials (such as plastic or cloth) and different lighting conditions (such as darkness or sunlight).
The cultivar Mentha spicata 'Nana', the Nana mint of Morocco, possesses a clear, pungent, but mild aroma and is an essential ingredient of Touareg Tea.
Spearmint is an ingredient in several mixed drinks, such as the mojito and mint julep. Sweet tea, iced and flavored with spearmint, is a summer tradition in the Southern United States. It is used as a flavoring for toothpaste and confectionery, and is sometimes added to shampoos and soaps. In herbalism, spearmint is steeped as tea for the treatment of stomach ache.