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Anna, Teacher, writer, biologist
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I found a plant in my flower garden and I think it is mint

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I found a plant in my flower garden and I think it is mint but I am not sure. It kinda tastes, smells and looks like mint but since I didn't plant it, it might be a weed. What type of plant is it? It has tiny purplish flowers at the top. How can I be sure it is edible? thank you a picture of the flower is at:

I apologize that no one has responded to your question sooner. Different experts come online at various times. I just came online and saw your question. My name is XXXXX XXXXX I'm a biologist with many years gardening experience.

I looked at your photo, and the plant does look like a mint. There are some characteristics we look for. One is that the leaves grow opposite each other along the stem. Your plant does that. Another is that the leaves get smaller toward the top, and yours also does that. Mint flowers bloom at the top in a little spike, just as this plant does. One of the most important things to look for is stem shape, and I'm unable to see that in the picture. Mint plants have stems that have squared edges, rather than being perfectly round. You can take a look for that trait.

From what I can see, I would say the plant is a mint. However, that doesn't mean it's edible. There are over 3,500 species of mint. None are toxic, but many don't taste very good. Catnip and bee balm are two mints in that category. Some species are native wildflowers. To further complicate things, they can interbreed, creating hybrids. Many of them do not taste good.

What you can do is look for the squared stem. If it has that type, go ahead and taste it. If it only tastes a little minty, it's probably a hybrid without much flavor. If the stems are round, I wouldn't eat it. Here is a website where you can read more about various types of mints:

If you have more questions, let me know in a REPLY.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

It does have square stems. I never noticed that. I thought all plants had round stems. It tastes kinda minty so it must be a hybrid. It is not as minty as my other mint plants. My mint is growing in my backyard garden. And this is growing in my front yard flower garden.. thank you!

You're welcome. Bees can cross-pollinate, resulting in the seeds for hybrids. Then a bird eats the seed and it ends up somewhere else in the bird's droppings. That's probably how the plant ended up in your front yard.


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