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Japanese Mint

Introduction
Scientifically termed as Mentha Arvensis, the Japanese Mint is a robust and perennial plant which can grow to a height of upto 1 meter. The plant is a hardy and frost resistant herb, growing well in high altitude conditions and it can survive in areas of upto 1500 meters. It is characterized by the presence of running root stocks and rigid branching and erect stem. The plant freely branches out and has oblong-ovate leaves of around 5 cm in length, also occurring in opposite pairs. The flowers occur in auxiliary whorls and do not coagulate at the top. These flowers appear in May and June and again in November when they are ready for cultivation. Its flowers are hermaphrodite and bees set in motion the pollination process. It attracts animals and insects, especially the bees and butterflies. Japanese mint is the source of menthol, an essential oil used to flavour foods. 75% of the menthol is produced by the Japanese mint.

 

Distribution
The plant grows in all types of soils like light, medium and heavy soils and also in in acid, neutral and alkaline (basic) soils. It can thrive in light shade or shade free conditions. Moist soils are the preferred zones for cultivation of these plants. The Japanese mint flourishes in the tropical and temperate climates in areas with adequate rainfall and sunshine. It can grow in a variety of habitats like the woods, sunny edges,dappled shade, shady areas and also in gardens in cultivated beds. Its cultivation in India is a relatively recent phenomena. The rooted suckers of the Japanese mint were planted in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir and showed favorable results and the cultivation was expanded to other states in the country. Its high adaptability enables the cultivation of the valuable plant throughout the country. The world demand for menthol is met by Japan and also China and Brazil.

 

Uses and Benefits of Japanese Mint
Imbued with a the strong taste of peppermint, the plant has been used traditionally for a variety of purposes. Its leaves are used for human consumption, especially in the making of condiments and teas. Tea is prepared by using the leaves in a dry or fresh form. Its leaves can be used either in the raw form or it can be cooked. The leaf contains around 0.2 % of essential oil. The essential oil of the herb is also used to season salads and other cooked foods. The essential oil is valued for two main reasons firstly, due to its antiseptic properties and also because, it is useful in treating digestion related disorders. The herb is regarded as a powerful home remedy for treating fevers, headaches and other minor ailments. It is said to be useful for stomach cancers. The herb can cause abortions when used by pregnant women. The pure and natural Japanese Mint Oil promote blood circulation, relieves pains,

sprains, swellings and muscles cramps. It has a rejuvenating effect on the mind and body. It has various medicinal uses and it functions as an anaesthetic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, carminative, diaphoretic, emmenagogue, febrifuge, galactofuge and also as a stimulant. Other then its usage as an essential oil, it is used as a repellent as it is hated by rats and mice and also for various strewing purposes in granaries. It is used a substitute for peppermint oil. Japanese mint oil is used to make the highly popular natural menthol. Mouthwashes, toothpastes and pharmaceutical preparation are flavored using dementholised oil. Japenese mint is useful against rheumatism and to treat coughs
 
Cultivation
Japanese mint is an easy to grow plant and thrives in all conditions and can tolerate even harsh dry conditions. Slightly acidic soils have an advantage and it grows well in heavy clay soils. Sunlight enables the production of high quality essential oils. It is a companion plant to tomatoes and brassicas and resists insect pests. Its roots spread out aggressively into the soil and need to be restrained. It is a hardy plant and easily interbreeds with other members of the mint family. Seeds are sown in a cold frame and germinate faster as compared to other plants. The seedlings are grown in pots and planted in summer. This is best done in the spring or autumn to enable th plant to grow properly. It is highly prone to hybridization and so the seedlings do not evolve in a uniform manner. The plant is propagated
by a division process, preferably done during the spring or autumn. The maximum amount of oil is produced at the time of the flowering stage. 2 to 3 cuttings are necessitated in the season and the yellowing of the lower leaves is signifier of the time to cut it. Freshly cut herbs are left in the field for 2 to 4 hours and thereafter, it is dried in areas with plenty of shade.
 
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