Mentha pulegium. N.O. Labiateae.
Synonym ► European Pennyroyal.
Habitat ► Not common as a wild plant, except on damp heaths and commons. Frequently seen in cottage gardens. Indigenous to Britain and Europe.
Features ► This member of the mint family grows up to twelve inches high, the stem
being bluntly quadrangular. The one to one and a half inch long, egg-shaped leaves are opposite, on short stalks ; they are slightly serrate and nearly smooth. Purple flowers appear in August. The odour is rather pungent, mint-like but characteristic.
Part used ► The whole herb.
Action ► Carminative, emmenagogue, diaphoretic and stimulant.
An infusion of 1 ounce to 1 pint of boiling water, taken warm in teacupful doses frequently repeated, is helpful in hysteria, flatulence and sickness. For children’s ailments such as feverish colds, disordered stomach and measles, Pennyroyal infusion may be given in appropriate doses with confidence. Its diaphoretic and stimulant action recommends it for chills and incipient fevers, and the infusion works as an emmenagogue when such ailments retard and obstruct menstruation. The oil of Pennyroyal is a first-rate protection against the bites of mosquitoes, gnats, and similar winged pests. The herb is used to some extent as a flavouring. Although not so popular as other herbs for this purpose, the mint-like flavour and carminative virtues of Pennyroyal should recommend it to cooks as adding to both palatability and digestibility of various dishes.
American or Mock Pennyroyal are the names given to the dried leaves and flowering tops of Hedeoma pulegioides. This plant, although quite different in appearance from the European Pennyroyal, has similar medicinal values.