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Another common name of Mentha × gentilis is Little-Leaved Mint. In addition to the usual Mentha spp. (mints), several hybrid mints have been described by various authorities. As a group, these hybrid mints are very difficult to identify and their taxonomy is problematic, notwithstanding numerous revisions through the years. Like some other hybrid mints, Red Mint is a presumed hybrid of Mentha arvensis (Field Mint) and Mentha spicata (Spearmint). Of these two parents, Red Mint has more characteristics in common with Spearmint than Field Mint (e.g., hairless foliage). However, Red Mint could be a more complex hybrid involving a third Mentha sp. (unidentified mint) as a parent. These days, the majority of taxonomists have grouped together formerly distinct hybrids into a single variable hybrid, Mentha × gracilis (Ginger Mint). Thus, such mint hybrids as Mentha × cardiaca, Mentha × gentilis, Mentha × rubra, etc. are now considered variants of Mentha × gracilis (Ginger Mint). However, because of significant variations in leaf shape and size, hairiness of stems and leaves, hairiness of calyces, and other characteristics among these mints, this taxonomic approach has not been adopted here.


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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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