Wild mountain mint grows in abundance here at Wild Ozark. This particular variety is called White-leaf Mountain Mint. While this post was originally created in 2016, I still enjoying seeing and using these aromatic plants. My own use of them is still mostly limited to the insect repellent properties, though. And that is plenty useful during fly season!
White-leaf Wild Mountain Mint (Pycnanthemum albescens)
I love this wild mountain mint. It adds a nice flavor to my cold/flu/crud herbal syrup when I remember to gather it during late summer. This year I did 🙂
Recently I discovered, quite by accident and out of desperation that it works extremely well against the biting flies – you know those ones that chase the deer around and love to bite the tender skin of humans as soon as they hit you? Those demons fly faster than I can drive on the 4-wheeler, too, so there’s no outrunning them.
Deer Fly Repellent
Not long ago I went up on the mountain to get some photos of the goldenseal. Once I got up there the flies attacked. Usually there’s a can of OFF in the basket, but not this time.
I tried to get ahead of them, but it did no good. Their little triangle wings must give them super powers. In a frenzied craze I saw the stand of mountain mint and grabbed a handful of tops. I just crushed them into my skin, rubbing myself down.
And all of a sudden, poof! The flies were gone.
Wild Mountain Mint Species of northwest Arkansas
There are a few different species of wild mountain mint. The Pycanthemum species in northwest Arkansas, according to the “Atlas of the Vascular Plants of Arkansas” are P. muticum, P. pilosum, and P. albescens. Only the muticum and albescens are listed for Madison county, which is where we are.
Those two look similar, but the P. muticum has broader leaves and I am pretty sure the variety we have is the albescens.
Aside from just smelling nice, mint has useful properties. Probably the most well-known medicinal use is in tea to help settle stomachs. That quality works well with the herbal syrup I make, but mostly I’m using it for flavor. Peppermint (or any other mint) tea has never been something I enjoy.
According to Altnature.com, “Crushed flowers are placed on tooth ache and almost instantly kills pain. “ This is one of many attributes listed for this plant, but it’s one I think I’ll keep in mind for the future. Other medicinal uses include treatment of menstrual disorders, indigestion, mouth sores and gum disease, colic, coughs, colds, chills and fevers. A decoction of the herb can be used as a wound-wash.
Smell the Mint
The next time you see those white tops nodding along your path, forget about the roses. Stop and smell the mint!