The candy cane, that red- and white-striped hard candy imbued with peppermint oil, is a signature confection of the winter holidays. Peppermint has a long history of cultivation and both medicinal and culinary use. Infusions of the plant or its extract have been used for so many hundreds of years throughout Europe, North Africa and Western Asia that the early history of peppermint candies, including cane-shaped ones, is murky. Fortunately, the biology behind peppermint’s famous aroma is more well known than the story of how it came to be a Christmas staple.
Botanically, peppermint is Mentha x piperita (family Lamiaceae). The “x” in the Latin name indicates that peppermint is a hybrid species, in this case a naturally-occurring hybrid of spearmint (M. spicata) and watermint (M. aquatica) (McGee 2004). There are around fifteen species of Mentha widely distributed….Read more at BitKBlog.
Index to Advent Botany 2015