The "mint-like" aromatic herbs of the genus Minthostachys are limited to the Andean zones of South America, with perhaps 12 species distributed at various altitudes from Venzuela to Argentina. The plethora of integrating phenotypes typical of Minthostachys spp. adds uncertainty to species determination. The use of vegetative characters to separate species is confounding. Species are separated by counting and measurement of calyx ribs. "Taxonomically the genus is in need of revision." - Ray Harley, Kew Botanical Gardens. Pollen morphology has indicated that the genus is most closely linked to Pycnanthemum and Bystropogon of the Canary Islands.
Use: M. mollis, tomentosa, setosa and other species:. As a as refreshing beverage, as a condiment in food, and as medicine for colds and coughs. Leaves are combined with storage potatoes; which have a definite inhibitory effect on tuber sprouting and also serves as a potato insect anti-feedant.
In Argentina M. verticillata tea is a well-known and widely commercialized product, packaged in tea bags as "Peperina". This species was once comercially distilled for a l-carvone rich essential oil. A scanned image from a boxtop from an Argentine peperina-containing commercial tea is displayed below (courtesy of Dolly Bell-LeLong).
Part of plant consumed: Leaves and flowering stems.