Plan the perfect garden with our interactive tool →

Difference Between a Spearmint Plant & a Peppermint Plant

Fresh mint leaf, close-up
John Foxx/Stockbyte/Getty Images

There are many differences between spearmint and peppermint plants, from the leaves, flowers and flavor of the two herb plants to their most popular uses. Each dates back 5,000 years to ancient Egypt and India, where they were valued for the effects of their oils, though those substances were used for different purposes.

Species

Spearmint
Medioimages/Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images

While both plants are in the mentha genus, they are of different species. Peppermint is from the piperita species, while spearmint is from the spicata species.

Leaves

Man picking mint leaf in the kitchen
Jupiterimages/BananaStock/Getty Images

Leaves from both plants tend to be about twice as long as they are wide and have jagged edges. However, where peppermint has its leaves growing from stems, spearmint leaves grow almost directly on the branch.

Flower

Assortment of herbs
Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images

The blooms of these herbs also differ, as peppermint usually has a purple bloom while spearmint generally has a pink or blue bloom.

Uses

Aedes species, South Africa
Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images

The two plants also have different uses. Spearmint is often used as a mosquito repellent, and peppermint is used as a mild antiseptic and decongestant.

Flavor

Beverage with mint leaves and horseracing wager cards
Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images

Spearmint's flavor comes from carvone, which gives it a sweet taste. Peppermint's flavor comes from menthol, which imbues it with its distinctive cooling sensation.

Related Articles

Characteristics of Herbs
Characteristics of Herbs
How to Identify Oregano
How to Identify Oregano
Are Hibiscus Plants Poisonous to People?
Are Hibiscus Plants Poisonous to People?
Is a Citronella Plant Toxic to Dogs?
Is a Citronella Plant Toxic to Dogs?
How to Identify Camomile
How to Identify Camomile
Life Cycle of Basil Plants
Life Cycle of Basil Plants
Flowering Plants With Flavors Similar to Fennel & Licorice
Flowering Plants With Flavors Similar to Fennel & Licorice
Difference Between a Spearmint Plant and a Peppermint Plant
Difference Between a Spearmint Plant and a Peppermint...
How to Care for Mint Plants
How to Care for Mint Plants
Purple Perennial Flower Identification
Purple Perennial Flower Identification
Information on the Lemon Sage Plant
Information on the Lemon Sage Plant
List of Plants in the Mint Family
List of Plants in the Mint Family
Florida Plants That Sting
Florida Plants That Sting
What Does Calendula Smell Like?
What Does Calendula Smell Like?
What Is the Difference Between a Yucca and an Agave?
What Is the Difference Between a Yucca and an Agave?
Sweet Herbs & Spices
Sweet Herbs & Spices
Elephant Ear Plant Bloom Times
Elephant Ear Plant Bloom Times
Garden Guides
×