What is the Difference Between Spearmint and Peppermint

The main difference between spearmint and peppermint is that the spearmint contains a less amount of menthol whereas peppermint contains a considerably higher amount of menthol. Furthermore, spearmint occurs naturally while peppermint is a hybrid of spearmint and watermint.

Spearmint and peppermint are two types of herbs which belong to the mint family. The genus Mentha produces menthol, an aromatic organic compound responsible for the bulk of mint’s sweet, sometimes spicy, flavor.

Key Areas Covered

1. What is Spearmint
     – Definition, Features, Uses
2. What is Peppermint
     – Definition, Features, Uses
3. What are the Similarities Between Spearmint and Peppermint
     – Outline of Common Features
4. What is the Difference Between Spearmint and Peppermint
     – Comparison of Key Differences

Key Terms

Herbs, Hybrid, Menthol, Mint Family, Peppermint, Spearmint

Difference Between Spearmint and Peppermint - Comparison Summary

What is Spearmint

Spearmint is a type of herb that belongs to the mint family. The main feature of spearmint is that it contains less than 1% of menthol. Therefore, the flavor of this herb is far more delicate. Spearmint is often added to savory dishes, which overpower other herbs and spices. Greeks use a lot of spearmint in their cuisine. They use it to flavor dishes with cheese, yogurt, and tomato sauces. Moreover, spearmint is added to cocktails.

What is the Difference Between Spearmint and Peppermint

Figure 1: Spearmint

Furthermore, spearmint can act as a remedy for nausea and hiccups. It also acts as a mosquito repellant.

What is Peppermint

Peppermint is the other type of significant herb in the mint family. It is a hybrid of spearmint and watermint. More importantly, it contains a higher amount of menthol, around 40% as a percentage. Therefore, peppermint is a powerful member of the mint family with a surly and punchy flavor.

Difference Between Spearmint and Peppermint

Figure 2: Peppermint

Besides, peppermint is used as a cooling agent to change the temperatures of the mouth and the skin. It is also important in relieving stress and relaxing muscles.

Similarities Between Spearmint and Peppermint

  • Spearmint and peppermint are the two, dominant types of herbs in the mint family (family Lamiaceae) important in culinary uses.
  • They belong to the genus Mentha.
  • Also, both types of plants are endogenous to the Middle East and Europe.
  • Furthermore, they consist of spear-shaped, wrinkled leaves and square stems.
  • To date, they are grown in gardens and indoor pots.
  • Menthol is the important aromatic organic compound produced by them. It is responsible for the sweet and spicy flavor of mint.
  • Moreover, both types of plants are important in cooking, medicinal purposes, and producing medicinal tea and essential oils.
  • Besides, both have medicinal properties in stomach ailments and topical relief from muscle pain and itching.

Difference Between Spearmint and Peppermint

Definition

Spearmint refers to a common mint grown for flavoring and especially for its aromatic oil while peppermint refers to the cultivated Old World plant which yields peppermint leaves or oil.

Species

Moreover, Spearmint is Mentha spicata while peppermint is Mentha piperita.

Occurrence

Another difference between spearmint and peppermint is that Spearmint is naturally occurring while peppermint is a hybrid of spearmint and watermint.

Leaves

The appearance of leaves is another difference between spearmint and peppermint; leaves of spearmint are small and spherical-shaped while that of peppermint are comparatively large and have a sharp shape.

Flowers

The flowers of spearmint have blue or pink bloom while the flowers of peppermint have purple bloom. Hence, it is an additional difference between spearmint and peppermint.

Growth

Furthermore, spearmint is a straight plant, which grows up to three feet while peppermint is a low-creeping plant, which grows around 1-3 feet. Besides, spearmint can spread throughout the entire vegetation unlimitedly while the spreading of peppermint in the vegetation is only up to three feet in width.

Menthol Concentration

Spearmint contains up to 0.05-1% menthol while peppermint contains up to 40% menthol. Thus, this is the main difference between spearmint and peppermint.

Flavor

Also, the spearmint has a mild and sweet flavor while peppermint has a sharp flavor. Furthermore, spearmint has a delicate smell while peppermint has an extremely intense smell.

Conclusion

Spearmint contains a less amount of menthol while peppermint contains a higher amount of menthol. On the other hand, spearmint is a naturally-occurring plant while peppermint is a hybrid of spearmint and watermint. Therefore, the main difference between spearmint and peppermint is the amount of menthol present in them.

References:

1. Bovshow , Shirley. “Grow Mint Indoors: Spearmint and Peppermint.” The Foodie Gardener™, The Foodie Gardener™, 20 Mar. 2015, Available Here

Image Courtesy:

1. “Spearmint in Bangladesh 08″ By কামরুল ইসলাম শাহীন – Own work (CC BY-SA 4.0) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “peppermint-medicinal-plant-2496363″ (CC0) via Pixabay

About the Author: Lakna

Lakna, a graduate in Molecular Biology & Biochemistry, is a Molecular Biologist and has a broad and keen interest in the discovery of nature related things

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