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Wood Calamint

Clinopodium menthifolium

Please keep in mind that it is illegal to uproot a plant without the landowner's consent and care should be taken at all times not to damage wild plants. Wild plants should never be picked for pleasure and some plants are protected by law.
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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Lamiaceae (Dead-nettle)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
60 centimetres tall
Gardens, meadows, scrub, waterside, woodland.

Purple, 2 petals
Clusters of pale lilac flowers, spotted dark purple. The flowers are larger than those of the similar looking Common Calamint (Clinopodium ascendens), measuring between 15 and 22mm across.
The fruit is a 4-parted nutlet. Single-seeded.
A perennial flower with opposite leaves. The leaves are oval and short-stalked. The leaves are larger than those of Common Calamint with 6 to 10 teeth on each side per leaf.
Wood Calamint is minty-smelling.
Other Names:
Basil Mint, Common Calamint, Menthol Basil, Woodland Calamint.
Frequency (UK):
Rarely seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Clinopodium menthifolium, also known as menthol basil or basil mint, is a species of flowering plant in the mint family. It is native to the eastern United States and is commonly found in moist, wooded areas. The plant is known for its small, white or pink flowers and hairy leaves. It grows well in moist, well-drained soil and is often found along streams and in damp meadows. Clinopodium menthifolium is a low-growing plant that forms a mat-like shape and can spread to form large clumps. It is commonly cultivated as an ornamental plant and is valued for its attractive flowers and ability to thrive in moist conditions. The plant is also used in traditional medicine to treat a variety of ailments.


Wood calamint, also known as Clinopodium menthifolium, is a species of flowering plant in the mint family (Lamiaceae). It is native to Europe and Western Asia, but can also be found in North America as an introduced species.

This plant is a low-growing shrub, reaching up to 60 cm in height, with fragrant leaves and small white or pink flowers that bloom in the summer. The leaves are oval-shaped and have a strong, minty aroma when crushed, which is why it is sometimes used as a culinary herb.

In the wild, wood calamint can be found growing in woodlands, along streams and rivers, and in other moist habitats. It is a hardy plant that is well adapted to a variety of soils, making it a good choice for naturalizing and restoring degraded habitats.

The plant's medicinal properties have been recognized for centuries, and it has been used for various ailments in traditional medicine. For example, it was used to treat digestive problems, headaches, and skin conditions.

Wood calamint is also valued for its ornamental value. Its delicate flowers, fragrant leaves, and ability to attract pollinators make it a popular choice for gardens and landscapes. It can be planted in mixed borders, rock gardens, or used as a groundcover.

Wood calamint is a versatile and attractive plant that offers a range of benefits, from its medicinal properties to its ornamental value. Whether you are looking to restore degraded habitats, create a beautiful garden, or enjoy the benefits of a flavorful herb, wood calamint is definitely worth considering.

In addition to its ornamental and medicinal uses, wood calamint is also an important plant for wildlife. Its nectar and pollen provide important food sources for a variety of pollinators, such as bees, butterflies, and moths. Birds, small mammals, and other wildlife may also use the plant for shelter and nesting sites.

It is important to note that, as an introduced species in North America, wood calamint can become invasive in some areas. If planting it in your garden, be sure to choose a location that is appropriate for its growth habit and take steps to control its spread if necessary.

When growing wood calamint, it is best to plant it in a location that receives full sun to partial shade and has well-drained soil. It is also a good idea to mulch around the plant to help retain moisture and control weeds.

Propagation of wood calamint is relatively easy and can be done through stem cuttings or seed. When grown from seed, it can take up to two years for the plant to mature and produce flowers.

Overall, wood calamint is a valuable addition to any garden or landscape, offering a range of benefits and uses. Whether you are looking to restore degraded habitats, attract wildlife, or simply enjoy the beauty and fragrance of a delightful plant, wood calamint is definitely worth considering.

Aside from its ornamental and medicinal benefits, wood calamint also has potential for use in essential oil production. The plant's leaves contain high levels of volatile compounds, such as menthol and eucalyptol, which are valued for their fragrance and flavor. These compounds can be extracted and used in a variety of products, such as perfumes, food flavorings, and personal care items.

In traditional medicine, wood calamint was often used in combination with other herbs to treat a variety of conditions. For example, it was sometimes combined with chamomile and valerian to treat digestive problems and insomnia. Today, the essential oil derived from wood calamint is sometimes used as a natural remedy for headaches, nausea, and skin irritation.

It is important to note, however, that the medicinal use of wood calamint should be approached with caution. Some studies have shown that the plant can be toxic if consumed in large amounts, and the essential oil should never be taken internally without the supervision of a qualified healthcare provider.

When harvesting wood calamint for use as a culinary herb or for essential oil production, it is best to gather the leaves and flowers just as they are starting to bloom. This is when the plant's volatile compounds are at their peak, and the fragrance and flavor are at their strongest.

In conclusion, wood calamint is a versatile and valuable plant that offers a range of benefits and uses. From its ornamental value, to its potential for essential oil production, to its medicinal properties, there is much to appreciate about this delightful plant. Whether you are looking to restore degraded habitats, create a beautiful garden, or enjoy the benefits of a flavorful and fragrant herb, wood calamint is definitely worth considering.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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