Donnerstag, 30. Juni 2011

Plant of the Day (June 30th, 2011) - Mentha aquatica L.

Today's “Plant of the Day” is another swamp and quiet water plant from Lake Uemmingen in Bochum, Western Germany: Mentha aquatica L. (known as “Water Mint” in English and as “Wasserminze” or “Bachminze” in German) from the Lamiaceae family.

M. aquatica - habitus

It's a small herb (between 20 and 50 centimetres high) with an upright growing stalk and underground stolons. The leaves are egg-shaped or elliptical-shaped and have a long stalk. They're a bit of rough and polished. As with all Lamiaceae, the leaf-pattern is decussate.

As a Lamiaceae, the single parts of M. aquatica contain fragrant, essential oils. Crushed leaves of this species smell like mint with a touch of coconut.

M. aquatica - habitus

The inflorescences are whorls, but they are combined to fake-heads. Each “head” consists of many small, cygopmorphic flowers with with five white to flesh pink petals. The sepals are forming a tube with pointed ends and 13 leaf-nerves.

M. aquatica is native to Europe but can also be found in Iran, North Africa and the Caucasus. It's a swamp plant, so it grows in areas with slow flowing or quiet water, the same habitat like P. australis. Such habitats are Lakes, brooks and reeds. It prefers wet, muddy and acid soils and is part of the Phragmition australis, a typical plant society of the wetland with Phragmites australis (Cav.) Trin. ex. Steud. var. australis as characteristic species.

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