River Mint

Mentha australis

Aboriginal names: Poang-gurk, Panaryle (Wurundjeri)

Native River Mint (aka. Wild Mint) is a smaller, more delicate relative of the more well-known mints like peppermint and spearmint. It has long been used in Aboriginal culture as a bushfood, insect repellant and medicinal herb. In the wild, you’ll find it growing in most regions of the country, often around rivers, bogs and other damp, shaded places.

River Mint prefers moisture and shade, and does best in boggy soil. However, it can be grown in dry areas, in sun or shade, with extra watering and plenty of organic matter in the soil. Like other mints, it grows relatively fast and will need regular pruning to keep tidy.

This species of mint grows about 30cm high and 100cm wide, but can expand much further if allowed to run wild. Though this species of mint is less rampant, it’s still easiest to control when grown in a pot.

The River Mint is the perfect Aussie substitute for other mints, particularly spearmint, or a useful addition to a native herb garden. Use it, fresh or dried, when making sauces, salads, dressing, dips, roasts, desserts, teas, cocktails and water infusions.

To harvest, pluck the leaves off the growing plant or prune whole stalks at a time. Leaves may be used fresh, or chopped and dried for later use. Just remember the aroma and flavour in harvested leaves will fade over time.

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