European Pennyroyal
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European Pennyroyal
ntroduced Photo: Gurcharan Singh
Common name: European Pennyroyal
Botanical name: Mentha pulegium    Family: Lamiaceae (Mint family)
Synonyms: Pulegium vulgare, Thymus bidentatus, Mentha aromatica

European pennyroyal is a low, prostrate, and spreading perennial herb, native to Europe and western Asia. Reaching a height of 0.3 meters, the plant has ovate to nearly orbicular leaves and lilac flowers, in dense whorls rising from each leaf axil. Crushed Pennyroyal leaves exhibit a very strong fragrance similar to spearmint. European Pennyroyal attracts bees, butterflies and hoverflies. European Pennyroyal is used as a flea repellent. Indeed, the Latin name pulegium was given by the Romans who knew that the leaves kept the flea Pulex away. It is cultivated in parts of India for its essential oil.
Medicinal uses: Pennyroyal is a traditional culinary herb, folk remedy, and abortifacient. The essential oil of pennyroyal is used in aromatherapy, and is also high in pulegone, a highly toxic volatile organic compound affecting liver and uterine function.

Identification credit: Gurcharan Singh
Photographed in Sialkot, Kashmir.
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