Native River Mint (aka. Wild Mint) is a smaller, more delicate relative of more well-known mints like peppermint and spearmint. It has long been used in Aboriginal culture as a flavoursome bushfood, insect repellant and medicinal herb. In the wild, you’ll find it growing in most regions of the country, often around rivers, bogs and other damp, shaded places. River Mint is summer growing, thriving along the riverbanks after flood, particularly in the Murray Darling Basin waterways. It was enthusiastically embraced by the early settlers and used with their roast lamb.
Australian Wild Mints can be used as a substitute in recipes where ever mint is called for. Its strong mint flavour and aroma is wonderful in both savoury and sweet dishes. It makes an absolutely wonderful digestive tea or iced sweet tea.
Rivermint (Mentha australis)
Another one for the plant pot! I would highly recommend using this in place of any call for mint. It is a cross between peppermint and spearmint in flavour and is also a wonderful medicinal herb. Use it fresh when possible but it is also great and very pungent when dried.
Slender Mint (Mentha diemenica)
This variety occurs in grassland and forest habitats from the Mt Lofty Ranges in South Australia, throughout Victoria and Tasmania, and north to the Blue Mountains of New South Wales.
◎ Common Name: Australian Wild Mint, River Mint
◎ Scientific or Latin Name: Mentha australis or Mentha diemenica
◎ Comparison: Peppermint and Spearmint
◎ Seasonality: All year dried
◎ Region: Grassland and forest
◎ Taste Profile: River Mint has a similar flavour to spearmint and peppermint.
◎ Types: At Warndu we source both Slender and River Mint (Mentha australis) from all over Australia. Our Aussie Wild Mint comes in a 50g sealed and recyclable bag, dried and ground. The size of the grind may vary as this will depend on where we source from.
- Rivermint may help relieve congestion of the common cold.
- Leaves can be made into a soothing herbal tea to aid digestion.
- River mint can be added to desserts and salads.
- Can be made into beverages and used like any other mint in sauces and dressings.
- Rivermint powder can be added to desserts, tarts, health bites, sauces and savoury dishes.
Traditional Aboriginal Food and Uses
This native herb is as versatile as it is aromatic; Indigenous Australians have used this marvellous herb for centuries as flavoursome bush food, natural insect repellant and medicinal herb.
The indigenous name is Poang-gurk, and it was boiled in water and used for the relief of coughs and colds. It is recorded the plant was used by the Aborigines to induce abortions. It was also used by early settlers as a tonic. A tea made from the leaves of most mint species has traditionally been used in the treatment of fevers, headaches, digestive disorders and various minor ailments.
Western & Modern
The River Mint is the perfect Aussie replacement or substitute for other types of mint, or a fantastic addition to a native herb garden. Use it liberally, fresh or dried, when making sauces, salads, dressing, dips, roasts, desserts, teas, cocktails and water infusions. It is commonly used in Middle-Eastern styled dishes, as well as in desserts.
Most commonly however, River Mint is used as a herbal tea to provide benefits which are reputedly good for easing the effects of colds. The crushed leaves can be sniffed to relieve headache.
As with all mint species, River Mint has been identified as a powerful herbal medicine thought to help improve general wellbeing. Some of the fascinating properties include:
- Carminative properties which help to ease the stomach, and to relieve esophageal pressure and heartburn.
- Natural anti-septic
- Fever reduction and may help to relieve congestion of the common cold.
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Aussie Wild Mint is featured in these recipes in Warndu Mai:
Warndu Products featuring Aussie Wild Mint
Note: The term 'Bush Tucker' and 'Bush Food' are not Warndu's preferred terms for Australian Native Ingredients or Australian Botanicals.
Images: © Luisa Brimble