Mentha aquatica L.

Common Name: Water mint

Synonyms and Other Names:

Mentha citrata Ehrh., Mentha piperita spp. citrate (Ehrh.) Briq., Mentha X piperita var. citrate (Ehrh.) Briq, Mentha X piperi var. citrata (Ehrh.) B. Boivin (pro nm.), water mint, lemonmint

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Identification: Water mint is an herbaceous rhizomatous perennial plant growing to 90 cm tall (Source: Wikipedia). The stems are square in cross section, green or purple, and variably hairy to almost hairless. The rhizomes are wide-spreading, fleshy, and bear fibrous roots. The leaves are ovate to ovate-lanceolate, 2–6 cm long and 1–4 cm broad, green (sometimes purplish), opposite, toothed, and vary from hairy to nearly hairless. The flowers are tiny, densely crowded, purple, tubular, and pinkish to lilac in color. All parts of the plant have a distinctly minty smell.

Size: to 90 cm

Native Range: Eurasia, northwest Africa and southwest Asia.

Great Lakes Nonindigenous Occurrences: Introduced into eastern North America and now widespread in the United States, including the Great Lakes region: IL, IN, MI, NY, OH, PA, WI.

Widespread in the Great Lakes by 1843.

Table 1. Great Lakes region nonindigenous occurrences, the earliest and latest observations in each state/province, and the tally and names of HUCs with observations†. Names and dates are hyperlinked to their relevant specimen records. The list of references for all nonindigenous occurrences of Mentha aquatica are found here.

Full list of USGS occurrences

State/ProvinceFirst ObservedLast ObservedTotal HUCs with observations†HUCs with observations†
IN200820081St. Joseph
MI1843200822Au Sable; Betsie-Platte; Black-Macatawa; Boardman-Charlevoix; Great Lakes Region; Keweenaw Peninsula; Lake Huron; Lone Lake-Ocqueoc; Manistee; Northeastern Lake Michigan; Northwestern Lake Huron; Pere Marquette-White; Saginaw; Southcentral Lake Superior; Southeastern Lake Michigan; Southwestern Lake Huron-Lake Huron; St. Clair; St. Clair-Detroit; St. Joseph; St. Marys; Upper Grand; Western Lake Erie
NY2008200810Cattaraugus; Eastern Lake Erie; Indian; Lower Genesee; Northeastern Lake Ontario; Oak Orchard-Twelvemile; Oneida; Oswego; Seneca; Southwestern Lake Ontario
OH189920088Black-Rocky; Blanchard; Cedar-Portage; Cuyahoga; Huron-Vermilion; Sandusky; Southern Lake Erie; Western Lake Erie
PA200820081Lake Erie
WI200820082Lake Superior; Northwestern Lake Michigan

Table last updated 12/3/2023

† Populations may not be currently present.

Ecology: Water mint occurs in the shallow margins and channels of streams, rivers, pools, dykes, ditches, canals, wet meadows, marshes and fens (Warren 1993). If the plant grows in the water itself, it rises above the surface of the water. It generally occurs on mildly acid to calcareous (it is common on soft limestone) mineral or peaty soils. Flowering is from mid-late summer. Water mint is pollinated by insects, and also spreads by underground rhizomes, like other species of mint.

Means of Introduction: Deliberate release.

Status: Established.

Great Lakes Impacts:
Summary of species impacts derived from literature review. Click on an icon to find out more...


Current research on the environmental impact of Mentha aquatica in the Great Lakes is inadequate to support proper assessment.
Mentha aquatica can hybridize with M. spicata to result in Mentha X piperita (Gobert et al. 2002).

There is little or no evidence to support that Mentha aquatica has significant socio-economic impacts in the Great Lakes.

There is little or no evidence to support that Mentha aquatica has significant beneficial effects in the Great Lakes.
Historically, mint species have been used for medicinal and culinary purposes (Ohio State University 2012).

In Jordan M. aquatic, in combination with other plant species, is used in numerous ways: as an expectorant, an astringent, a muscular relaxant for the uterus and arteries, a carminative, an antispasmodic, an antiepileptic, a narcotic, an antipyretic, a diaphoretic, a cathartic, a hypnotic, an anal gesic, an antineuralgic, an antiarthritic, an antirheumatic, and an antitussive (Al-Qura'n 2007).

Extracts taken from M. aquatica have shown to have selective antiproliferative activity on breast cancer, as well as neurochemical properties that may have medicinal purposes (Conforti et al. 2008, López et al. 2010). Essential oils derived from M. aquatica have antimicrobial activity (Mimica-Dukic et al. 2003).

Mentha aquatica may also be able to take up lead from its surrounding environment; depending on the local pH (Saygideger and Dogan 2005).

Management: Regulations (pertaining to the Great Lakes)
The Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission considers this species capable of causing severe ecological impacts and recommends it be controlled within their ceded territories (Falck and Garske 2003).

Note: Check federal, state/provincial, and local regulations for the most up-to-date information.


Chrysolina herbacea feeds on M. aquatica, despite the deterrents this species produces to minimize damage caused by herbivores (Atsbaha Zebelo et al. 2011).

Hand-pulling may control small populations of Mentha spp.  (MISIN and MNFI 2013).

General herbicides, such as glyphosate, are effective at controlling Mentha spp. (MISIN and MNFI 2013).

Note: Check state/provincial and local regulations for the most up-to-date information regarding permits for control methods. Follow all label instructions.

Remarks: It hybridises with Mentha spicata (Spearmint) to produce Mentha × piperita (Peppermint), a sterile hybrid; with Mentha suaveolens (Apple Mint) to produce Mentha × suavis; with Mentha arvensis (Corn Mint) to produce Mentha × verticillata; and with both M. arvensis and M. spicata to give the tri-species hybrid Mentha × smithiana.

References (click for full reference list)

Other Resources:
USGS/NAS Technical Species Profile

USDA/NRCS PLANTS Database Wikipedia - Mentha aquatica. Accessed on 08/20/2008.  

Author: Cao, L, and L. Berent

Contributing Agencies:

Revision Date: 8/16/2019

Citation for this information:
Cao, L, and L. Berent, 2023, Mentha aquatica L.: U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL, and NOAA Great Lakes Aquatic Nonindigenous Species Information System, Ann Arbor, MI,, Revision Date: 8/16/2019, Access Date: 12/3/2023

This information is preliminary or provisional and is subject to revision. It is being provided to meet the need for timely best science. The information has not received final approval by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and is provided on the condition that neither the USGS nor the U.S. Government shall be held liable for any damages resulting from the authorized or unauthorized use of the information.