Cooperative Extension in Lancaster County
444 Cherrycreek Road, Lincoln, Nebraska. Phone: 402-441-7180. University of Nebraska-Lincoln



Oil Glands on a Peppermint Plant

Peppermint Plant with Oil

Plants secrete a a wide variety of chemical substances. These substances are for the plants well-being and interactions with other organisms. A large number of oils and fragrances are produced by these plants.

In the photo, you can see what is called a surface- borne glandular trichomes. The flat cells are covered with a membrane. Oil secretions fill the space. Trichomes can be found on any part of the plant especially the leaves and flowers. When you rub against or crush the plant, the membrane ruptures on the flat cells, you "smell" the oil.

About Peppermint (Mentha piperita): Peppermint is a perennial plant, 2 feet or more in height. It has dark green leaves and reddish stems. Tiny purplish flowers appearl on terminal spikes 1-3 inches long. Peppermint does best in rich, moist soil. It grows in sun or shade.

The leaves are aromatic and peppermint is found in cosmetics, cooking and medicines. You'll find peppermint in tea and as a favoring. Oil from the plant is used in chewing gum, toilet water, soap, liqueur and more. Fresh or dried leaves scent sachets and potpourris. Peppermint oil is used in herbal water to refresh and cool skin, in facials to cleanse skin, and in lotions.

About Mints: Mints had their beginnings early in history. Greek athletes used bruised mint leaves as an after-bath lotion. In the Middle Ages, mint was important as a cleansing agent and later was used to purify drinking water that had turned stale on long ocean voyages. Mint also was given mystical powers and it was used to neutralize the "evil eye" and to produce an aggressive character. (WVU)

The Romans crowned themselves with peppermint, and the poet Ovid referred to mint as a symbol of hospitality. The Greeks believed peppermint could clear the voice and cure hiccups. It was thought to be a remedy for mad dog bites when combined with salt. The colonists brought peppermint to America for medicinal use. (PSU)


Growing Herbs in the Garden, West Virginia University Extension Service (WVU)

Peppermint, Penn State Department of Horticulture (PSU)

The photo of the peppermint plant oil glands and the information the cells is from the Microscopix Photo Library Web site. Permission was given by Andrew Syred to reprint the photo on this Web page.

Resources from University of Nebraska Cooperative Extension:

Add a Little Spice (and Herbs) to Your Life

Herbs: Harvesting, Drying, Storing

Make Your Own Potpourri

Homemade Ice Cream using Cooked Eggs or Omitting Eggs (Recipe for Peppermint Ice Cream!)

Growing Herbs Video Clip - Backyard Farmer

Did you miss a
Can You Guess It??

See more photos & resources here.

Featured Can You Guess It?? Photo - NEBLINE

This Can You Guess It?? photo appears in the June 2005 Nebline Newsletter.



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