A friend gave me some mint, and didn't mention what type it is. How can I tell if it's spearmint, peppermint, apple mint, lemon mint, or some other variety?

I googled some pictures, but quite frankly, all the pictures look very similar -- four leaves growing from the center which a textured leaf and a rich, green colour.

If it helps, I see what appears to be a purplish stolon making it's way across the surface of the soil (my soil is clay so I have this planted in maybe 3-4" deep soil right now).


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(Overall plant)

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(Close-up of leaves and flower. I picked alternatingly, so the plant originally has groups of four leaves.)

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Over-ground purplish stolon)

  • Buy some gum or candy from a store which is labeled "peppermint" and "spearmint", smell them and compare scents to the plants.
    – Randy
    Commented Aug 25, 2013 at 11:57
  • 2
    Apple mint looks very different than other mints. It has huge, fuzzy, thick leaves. Spearmint and peppermint look a lot alike, and will be harder to tell apart without smelling/tasting them.
    – michelle
    Commented Aug 26, 2013 at 13:31
  • I have a chocolate mint with purple stems that has a distinct chocolate odour and taste, my lemon mint has yellow stripes and is very lemony, lemon balm has a softer leaf tastes like lemon. Taste and scent definitely help with identification.
    – T.Smith
    Commented Sep 1, 2013 at 5:20
  • Lemon balm, although a member of the Labiatae family, isn't a mint, its Melissa officinalis, and yes, some mints are variegated, which certainly helps with ID. Some have pink flowers, some have lilac/blue, different heights, all these help if you're unable to distinguish from flavour/scent.
    – Bamboo
    Commented Sep 1, 2013 at 10:53
  • 2
    Smell is the big one - apple and pineapple and (actual) chocolate and ... mints all smell different, though there are also more subtle differences in appearance and overall vigor. BEWARE of the fact that mint is a thing you think you want until you plant it uncontained and it takes over half your garden. Pinapple mint (IME) would have a hard time at that (low vigor) but spearmint and peppermint [that is definitely not chocolate mint even though it was claimed to be] are fighting with quickweed and creeping buttercup for weed domination of my garden. Contain yours before it's too late.
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented Nov 15, 2014 at 1:09

4 Answers 4


Just to confuse the picture even more, there is a chocolate mint which has purplish stolons. There are, in fact, hundreds of varieties of mint, some of which are commercially grown for oil extraction or for leaf drying, and a lot of which haven't even been given names, being known as Mint 341, etc. There is a big difference in taste between spearmint and peppermint, but detecting the difference in other varieties is difficult for lots of people because it's subtle, so unless the appearance is different, it's hard to tell. I certainly can't detect any chocolate taste in chocolate mint, but then it may be called that because it has a chocolatey colour in parts. In the end, whether you use it for culinary purposes or not is down to personal taste, but all varieties are, in growth, extremely invasive plants in open ground.

UPDATE: Doesn't look like chocolate mint - the leaves are slightly longer and more pointed on that one, and often flushed with a brownish tinge near the leaf stalk. I note it does have dark stems though (top picture) and the leaves don't look shiny, so I'm assuming they're slightly fuzzy or hairy. Knowing what colour the flowers are might help with ID.

  • "Chocolate" mint without the smell of chocolate is just dishonest suppliers. I've smelled some; unfortunately I didn't buy it right then (street fair sort of deal) and when I ordered some from a normally-reputable supplier, what showed up would only be considered "chocolate" if you associated all chocolate with chocolate peppermints - it was plain old peppermint. Sigh. QED, you don't actually have chocolate mint, but you have the potential to disappoint someone else if you hand it on as that.
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented Nov 15, 2014 at 1:03

That looks like corn mint aka wild mint aka Pudina(in urdu/hindi). it is either spearmint or Pudina(Wild mint). seeing how the plant is growing,spreading on ground, i think it is pudina. I am from Pakisatan and we use Pudina daily, in tea,salads,sauces etc so it looks more like pudina. another way to identify is the smell, when u crush it in your hands ,if the smell is really strong and somewhat sweet its pudina. Also the leaves are sharp edged, spearmint has a bit smoother edges and a somewhat hairy stalk.

  • 1
    oh wow asked 2 years ago.... is the plant even alive? :P
    – Leah
    Commented Dec 8, 2015 at 15:04
  • 1
    Unfortunately, it died. But, I'm not sure your answer is right; apparently, there are over 100 types of mints. Given that the person who gave it to me is from that area, it probably is pudina :)
    – ashes999
    Commented Dec 8, 2015 at 15:35

That looks a lot like the mint that grows outside of my house! From what I gathered from a quick Google search is that it's probably Spearmint, from the looks of the serrated edges!


It seems to be cat mint from what I gather

  • When answering identification questions, please describe why you think your identification is correct: the plant’s characteristics, location. It’s also useful to include links if they help support your answer.
    – Niall C.
    Commented Nov 14, 2014 at 18:27

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