Clinopodium nepeta

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Lesser calamint
Calamintha nepeta nepeta0.jpg
Calamintha nepeta Sturm54.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Lamiales
Family: Lamiaceae
Genus: Clinopodium
Species: C. nepeta
Binomial name
Clinopodium nepeta
(L.) Kuntze[1]
Synonyms[1]
  • Melissa nepeta L.
  • Calamintha parviflora Lam., nom. superfl.
  • Melissa parviflora Salisb., nom. superfl.
  • Calamintha nepeta (L.) Savi
  • Thymus nepeta (L.) Sm.
  • Satureja nepeta (L.) Scheele
  • Calamintha officinalis var. nepeta (L.) Rchb. & Rchb.f.
  • Satureja calamintha subsp. nepeta (L.) Briq.

Clinopodium nepeta (synonym Calamintha nepeta), known as lesser calamint,[2] is a perennial herb of the mint family.

Description[edit]

Lesser calamint is a perennial shrub, forming a compact mound of shiny, green oregano-like leaves. The flowers are lavender pink. The plant reaches a height of 18 inches.[3] The lesser calamint smells like a cross between mint and oregano. It attracts honeybees and butterflies.[4] Lesser calamint usually grows in the Summer, and well into the Fall. It can become dormant in the winter months, then reblossom in spring. In fall, the flowers fall to the ground and will self-seed. Seedlings will flower in late August.[4] Lesser calamint often grows wild, but can also kept in pots. The average life expectancy of a plant is 3–4 years. It is susceptible to powdery mildew.[4]

Taxonomy[edit]

The species was first described by Carl Linnaeus in 1753 as Melissa nepeta. It was subsequently placed in Calamintha, Thymus, Satureja and Clinopodium, among other genera. The last of these is currently accepted by the World Checklist of Selected Plant Families.[5]

Subspecies[edit]

Three subspecies are recognized:[5]

  • C. nepeta subsp. nepeta – south central and southern Europe to northern Iran
  • C. nepeta subsp. spruneri – Mediterranean to the Caucasus
  • C. nepeta subsp. subisodontum – east central and south east Europe

Uses[edit]

Lesser calamint is used in borders. It is also as a spice in the Italian cuisine where it is called mentuccia, nipitella or nepitella.

References[edit]