Mentha Australis (Native River Mint – aka Wild Mint)
Aboriginal name: Poang-gurk
Where will you find it: Widespread throughout Australia, particularly in inland areas. Usually found near rivers and creeks
Plant Type: Ground cover, clumping perennial
Preferred Climate: Sub-tropical, warm temperate (Summer growing)
Mentha Australis is a smaller, more delicate relative of the well-known mints peppermint and spearmint. This species of mint grows about 30cm high and 100cm wide, but can expand much further if allowed to run wild. Propagation is easy from cuttings and seeds can be slow to germinate. To harvest, pluck the leaves off the growing plant or prune whole stalks at a time. Like other mints, it grows relatively fast and will need regular pruning to keep tidy.
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. It has long been used in Aboriginal culture as a flavoursome bushfood, insect repellent and medicinal herb. Can also be used to make an interesting mint tea, which is reputedly good for easing the effects of colds.