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Mentastrum Plinius est silvestris menta differens specie foliorum quasi figura ozimi coloris pulegii propter quod quidam pulegium silvestre vocaverunt et cetera, hoc arabice faudenegi aquaticum vocant.


silvestris mẽta ABCD | menta silvestris e

differens ACD | diferens B | e? {abbrev.}

spetie B | spē ACD e? {abbrev.}

quasi ACD e | quae B

pulegii ABCD | pullegii e

pulegium ABCD | pullegium e

vocaverunt et cetera ABCD | vocaverunt e

faudenegi ABCD | faudhenegi e

vocant. ACD e | vocant & cet: B


Mentastrum, Pliny says, is wild menta {"mint"}, and it is different in kind. The shape of the leaves are like the leaves of ocimum {"basil"} and of the colour of pulegium {"pennyroyal"}, which is why some people have called it "wild pulegium", etc. The Arabs call this plant "water faudenegi'".


This is a near-verbatim quote from Pliny, 20, 52, 144, ed. Rackham (1938-63: VI.84). In some editions of Pliny's Naturalis Historia the words colore pulegii "colour of pulegium" are emended to odore pulegii "the smell of pulegium". The Arabic name of the plant is added by Simon.

Apart from Pliny (11, 3, 37) who mentions mentastrum several times, the word is also mentioned as an ingredient in some recipes in Celsus, and in Columella, who calls it silvestre mentastrum.

Mentastrum is also cited in Dioscorides Graece, 3, 34, ed. Wellmann (1906-14: II.45):

ἡδύοσμον ἄγριον· Ῥωμαῖοι μεντάστρουμ /hedýosmon ágrion: Rhōmaîoi mentástroum/ "wild hedýosmon {'mint'}, the Romans call it mentastrum"; and in Dioscorides Longobardus, 2, 147, ed. Stadler (1899: 234), De ydropiperi {"water pepper"}, whose leaves are compared to those of mentastrum: folia {sc. hydropiperis} mentastro similia sunt (1899: 234) – the leaves of hydropiper {"water pepper"} are similar to those of mentastrum.

At some stage the plant must have been cultivated since it was considered worthy enough in Charlemagne's Capitulare de Villis to be grown in the imperial gardens -

LXX: Volumus quod in horto omnes herbas habeant ... mentastrum, ... – "We want that all these herbs be grown in our gardens ... mentastrum, ...".

The ability of most mints to escape from cultivation and to hybridise makes the botanical identification of mentastrum difficult. André (1956: 207) identifies 3 different groups, 1) Menthes sauvages {"wild mints"}; 2) all forms of calaminthe {bot. genus Calamintha}, and 3) Nepeta montana Turra {syn. N. nuda L.}.

For faudenegi cf. Siggel (1950: 57): ﻓﻮﺗﻧﺞ fūtanğ, ﻓﻮﺩﻧﺞ fūdanğ, {ﻓﻮﻳﺎﻧﺞ} fūyānağ Mentha (pulegium) (Lab.); Mentha piperita (Lab.)

See also: Faudhenigi, Fautenegum

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