Other Common Names:
The other common names for the herb pennuroyal are spearmiint,pulegium,pudding grass,English Pennyroyal, European Pennyroyal,polei,poleo,true Pennyroyal,yarpuz,tickweed, sqaw mint, stinking balm, thickweed, mock pennyroyal, mosquito plant and squaw balm.
Ancient herbal medicine practitioners considered spearmint or pennyroyal to be of multifarious use, while the natural historians highly praised them for their therapeutic properties. Pennyroyal became popular during the first century after the Romans noted that the herb repelled fleas, which would explain its common name, fleabane.
This name given the plant in ancient times has been retained as its modern specific name. It is sometimes known to the country-people as 'Run by the Ground' and 'Lurk in the Ditch,' from its manner of growth. It was formerly much used in medicine, the name Pennyroyal being a corruption of the old herbalists' name 'Pulioll-royall' (Pulegium regium), which we meet also in the Middle Ages as 'Piliole-rial.' It has been known to botanists since the time of Linnaeus as Mentha Pulegium.One of its popular names is 'Pudding Grass,' from being formerly used in stuffing's for hog's puddings.
Pennyroyal is an aromatic herb that grows from tuber or bulbs. It has erratic patterns and can be found as low-growing variety, scattering plants or vertically gangling sub-shrubs. It has a decumbent, weak, prostrate stems, bluntly quadrangular, 3 inches to a foot long, which readily take root at the lower joints or nodes. The leaves are usually 0.25 to 1 inch long. They are abridged at the end, petiole at the base and those at the higher end of the stems are sub-sessile.
The leaf blade is narrowly ovate to elliptic, while the base is either tapered or thick. The leaf tip is rounded with an edge that is totally or partially indent. The bottom surface of the leaves is short and hairy. In addition, they are found collectively as barbs or panicles. The pale purple flowers are set in whorls. The plant bears deep pink, blue or violet flowers that are found in dense spiral bunches at the higher joints. The seed is light brown, oval and very small. On the other hand, distinct from many other mints, pennyroyal flowers are somewhat two-lipped and not prominently bilateral.
Pennyroyal is indigenous to Europe and western Asia, and has now become naturalized in North and South America.
Pennyroyal breeds best in sandy soils that are damp as well as enriched with humus. Most common near ponds, pools and streams. The herb thrives best in conditions where there is sunlight or shades of other vegetation and required fertile soil as well as constant watering. The best places to look for pennyroyal are the areas flooded during the spring or places that remain dampened at certain seasons like seeps, banks of streams, spring pools and swales, marshy lands, as well as ditches.
It is propagated from seeds and succeeds best in loamy soil, in a moist situation. Cultivation is generally done by division of old roots in autumn or spring, March or April or rarely by cuttings. The roots may be divided up in September where the winters are mild, in April where the winters are frosty. It requires a spacing of 12 inches between the rows and 6 inches between the plants in the row. The creeping underground roots grow in horizontal masses, which are later taken up at any time during the winter and laid out on a bed of good soil, covering them with 2 or 3 inches of the same, they will soon push up fresh shoots in quantity. They are made into cuttings, each with four or five joints, and, inserted in boxes of light, sandy soil, will soon form roots in the same temperature, and then planted out in the open. In autumn all the stalks that remain should be cut down to the ground and the bed covered with fresh soil to the depth of 1 inch. Pennyroyal is mostly sold in the dry state for making tea, the stems being cut when the plant is just about to flower and dried in the usual manner.
The flowers are in bloom between July and August.
Pests and Diseases
If the soil is very rich, mint plans are normally vulnerable to swarming and/ or attacks by various microbes like aphids, mint flea beetles, cutworms, spider mites and vertically withering as well as corrosion. In such circumstances, the infected plants need to be uprooted and burnt immediately and re-planting may be taken up in the following season and at another place. Caterpillars can usually be handpicked. They are repelled by wormwood spray or insect spray. Rust appears as bright orange markings on the foliage of herbs such as mint and chives. Destroy all affected foliage. Do not place diseased plants or foliage in the compost bin. If a mild commercial copper spray does not curb the disease, destroy the plants.
The entire herb is of medicinal and commercial use.
• It is helped in treatment of headaches and giddiness.
Commercial and Culinary Applications
• Pennyroyal Water was distilled from the leaves and given as an antidote to spasmodic, nervous and hysterical affections.
• It is used against cold and 'affections of the joints.
• It is also beneficial in cases of spasms, hysteria, flatulence and sickness, being very warming to the stomach.
• Oil of Pennyroyal is also used commercially.
• Pennyroyal is used to stimulate the menstrual process and to strengthen uterine contractions.
• Pennyroyal is used in treating conditions like fainting, flatulence, gall ailments, gout, hepatitis, a lung cleanser, a gum strengthener and for tumour.
• Pennyroyal has been used as a natural insect repellent for centuries.
• It is used in stimulating suppressed mensturation and prolonged labor.
• Pennyroyal enhances the discharge of digestive enzymes and alleviates flatulence, colic and stomach pain.
• Pennyroyal is also used by herbal physicians to cure high body temperatures as well as stomach congestion.
• Pennyroyal is used to heal skin complaints like formication and burning sensations on the skin like eczema.
• It is also helpful in curing body joint aches like gout.
• Fresh mint makes effective coolants and if one consumes summer drinks and fruit mixtures with mint leaves, it relaxes the body.
• Fresh mint makes salads and hot and cold soups more delicious.
• Fresh mints may also be used to add spice to jellies, sauces and dips.
• Commercially they are used to add zing to soft drinks, chewing gums, confectionary, baked food, gelatins, ice creams, liqueurs as well as syrups.
• For better perfumed packages one may use the scented mint leaves to potpourris or to packets.
• A famous stuffing was once made of Pennyroyal, pepper and honey.
• Pennyroyal is often found in cottage gardens, as an infusion of the leaves, known as Pennyroyal Tea, is an old-fashioned remedy for colds and menstrual derangements.
• In France and Germany oil of Pennyroyal is also used commercially.
• At one time used to flavor puddings and sauces. Good insect repellant.
• Used by professional dog groomers as a natural herbal flea dip. Simmer leaves in water for making flea repellent.
• Renaissance sailors purified their drinking water with it, and its scent mixed with wormwood was a remedy for seasickness.
• Many recommend stuffing pennyroyal into a cloth collar to help companion animals fend off fleas.