Nepitella

Herb

Nepitella, Calamint

Nepitella is a regional favorite in Tuscany where it is added to mushroom dishes and green vegetables for its distinctive minty flavor. Sautéed zucchini or mushrooms with fresh nepitella, tomatoes, and garlic is served with roast or boiled meat dishes.

 

 

A member of the mint family, lesser calamint (Calamintha nepeta) is a low growing, aromatic, spreading shrub that grows into a mound about 18 inches tall. It spreads, but is not invasive.

Sow seed in containers in spring, or divide in early spring.

Calamint is a perennial herb and a member of the mint family. Great for the scented garden, it also attracts the attention of the local bee population.

Packet app. 25 seeds


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This low-growing herb has pleasant mint-scented leaves, and its tiny but profuse white or pale lilac flowers appear in late summer to fall, bearing its flowers on long stalks.

Both this and the Common Calamint seem to have been used indifferently in the old practice of medicine.

It is an erect, bushy plant with square stems, rarely more than a foot high, bearing pairs of opposite leaves, which, like the stems, are downy with soft hairs. The flowers bloom in July and August, and are somewhat inconspicuous, drooping gracefully before expansion: the corollas are of a light purple color.

The plant grows by waysides and in hedges, and is not uncommon, especially in dry places. It may be cultivated as a hardy perennial, propagated by seeds sown outdoors in April, by cuttings of side shoots in cold frames in spring, or by division of roots in October and April.

The plant boasts small, glossy dark green leaves topped with tiny pale lavender flowers, which begin appearing at the end of August and continue on into autumn. The flowers gradually turn a darker shade of purple as the weather begins to shift.

Lesser calamint is a suitable shrub for USDA zones 5 to 10, where it will grow in either partial sun or full sun. The shrub does best in a well-draining, moist soil.

In the past calamint was used to calm hysterical outbursts — the sufferer was given calamint conserve to sip and a posy of the herb was tucked into the bodice so that the strong minty scent would help to clear the head.

Calamint, calamintha officinalis, is a delightful hardy perennial which grows along the hedgerows and country lanes in dry places. It is a bushy plant, covered with soft hairs and growing about 12in (30cm) high. Small rosy-purple flowers grow out of the leaf axils and these bloom in July and August. Calamint is an insignificant little plant not easily found in the wild, but it grows well in the garden and has a lovely minty smell.

MEDICINAL USE

Calamint is a highly aromatic herb and a cordial tea is helpful in the treatment of colds and influenza as it promotes perspiration. It is also a remedy for flatulence and upset stomachs.
* To make calamint cordial: Boil fresh or dried calamint leaves with honey and a teaspoon of lemon juice. Use 2 tablespoons clear honey and crush as many leaves as possible into it in the pan, add the lemon juice and bring the mixture slowly to the boil. Simmer for 5 minutes then remove from the heat and leave to cool. Strain and store in a screwtop bottle. Dilute to taste with hot water.

* For stiff muscles, place crushed fresh calamint leaves on the affected part and secure with a bandage. Leave it in place until the muscle returns to normal.

* A preserve made of the fresh young calamint tops is a remedy for nervous disorders.

* Crushed fresh leaves held under the nose like old- fashioned smelling salts will clear the head and revive those who feel faint.

BEAUTY CARE

Dried calamint, both flowering tops and leaves, has a strong enduring scent and can be mixed in with other herbs in a potpourri. It can also be used for a refreshing aromatic bath.
* To make a herbal bath sachet: Take a handful of fresh calamint leaves (half the amount if dried) and mix with an equal quantity of other herbs such as lemon balm or rosemary. Tie the herbs in a piece of muslin or cheesecloth and hang it from the bath tap (faucet) so that the water pours down through the cloth. When in the bath you can use the bag as a fragrant massage pad to rub down the skin.

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