Pennyroyal (Mentha Pulegium.) is a perennial herb (a herb that grows all year round) & belongs to the Lamiaceae family. It is known for its rapid growth and spreading nature, which can make it quite invasive if not managed properly. Pennyroyal is the smallest of the mints and is even more aromatic than other varieties.
Pennyroyal is normally found in dried herb form, brewed as tea. It is also found as an essential oi, however unlike other mint oils, Pennyroyal oil is toxic and should not be ingested.
Cultivation Of Pennyroyal:
Although it can tolerate a small amount of shade, mint prefers partial to full sun. Pennyroyal should be grown in well-draining, fertile, moist, and slightly acidic soil.
Unlike other mints, pennyroyal can easily be grown from seeds,
established plants or less often, cuttings. Propagation of pennyroyal is normally by division of roots in the autumn or spring. When planting, space at least 6 inches apart as they will spread. Many gardeners choose to plant pennyroyal in pots to keep it contained as it is a prolific spreader.
Pennyroyal requires regular watering, however, do not over-water as it is prone to root rot (this is why it needs well draining soil). To help retain moisture and suppress weeds, a layer of mulch should be applied around the base of your plant.
Pennyroyal should be regularly pruned to stop it from becoming too invasive. Pinching off the tops of the stems will also encourage your pennyroyal plant to fill out and become nice and bushy, rather than scraggly.
Note: Pennyroyal can be invasive, so it's a good idea to plant it in containers or confined areas to prevent it from spreading into unwanted areas of your garden.
Harvesting and Drying Pennyroyal:
- Harvesting: Harvest pennyroyal leaves in the morning, after any dew has dried but before the sun is too hot. Choose healthy leaves and avoid stems that have started to flower.
- Gather several pennyroyal stems together and secure them with a rubber band or string.
- Hang the pennyroyal bundles upside down in a cool, dry, and well-ventilated area. A dark room with good airflow is ideal.
- It typically takes about 1-2 weeks for the leaves to dry completely. They should feel crisp and crumble easily when touched.
- Once dried, remove the leaves from the stems and store them in an airtight container away from direct sunlight. Label the container with the date to track freshness.
- You can also use a dehydrator to dry your herbs- check with your manual to see what temperature and time will be needed to dry your pennyroyal.
Mundane Uses of Pennyroyal:
Pennyroyal used to be used in culinary application such as stuffings, however due to it’s flavour being pungent and less agreeable than other mints, it’s use has fallen out of favour in the West.
- There is a North African dish called Batata fliou, which still uses pennyroyal as a key ingredient.
- The fresh leaves of pennyroyal (known in Rome as menta romana) are used in Italy to flavour lamb and tripe.
Aromatic Uses Of Pennyroyal:
Pennyroyal is the most highly aromatic of the mint plants.
Some of the ways to use the aroma of pennyroyal in your mundane life include:
- Insecticide and pest repellent- pennyroyal is frequently used as an insecticide and pest repellent for fleas, gnats, and mosquitos.
- Rub pennyroyal leaves on the inside of a pets collar to help ward off fleas.
- Place crushed pennyroyal leaves in clothing pockets to ward off pests such as mosquitos.
- Place vases of pennyroyal around the home to ward off insects and fragrance the home.
When using pennyroyal aromatically, it is recommended to use the leaves rather than the essential oil as it can be toxic to humans and animals. If you do choose to use pennyroyal essential oil, choose high-quality sources and follow recommended guidelines for safe usage. As a general rule of thumb, never apply the essential oils directly to the skin or take them internally, especially pennyroyal as the oil is toxic when ingested. If you apply the oils diluted to the skin, always do a skin patch test first to check for any allergic reactions.
Medicinal Uses Of Pennyroyal:
- Colds: Consuming pennyroyal tea is said to help rid oneself of a cold
- Menstrual Problems: Pennyroyal tea acts as an emmenagogue (an ingredient which stimulates blood flow to the pelvic region and uterus) and can be used to bring about menstruation.
Caution: It's important to remember that while these potential benefits are supported by some research and traditional use, individual responses can vary. Pennyroyal tea should only be consumed very occasionally due to the high toxicity of pennyroyal, and it should not be given to pregnant women, children or babies. If you have specific health concerns or are taking medications, it's a good idea to consult with a healthcare professional before making significant changes to your diet or lifestyle. This blog post is not intended to be used as a medical reference guide, and the author is not a qualified medical practitioner.
The Magickal Properties Of Pennyroyal:
Name: Pennyroyal (Mentha Pulegium)
Folk Names: European Pennyroyal, Lurk-in-the-ditch, Mosquito Plant, Organ Broth, Organs, Organ Tea, Piliolerian, Pudding Grass, Run-by-the-ground, Squaw Mint, Tickweed.
Parts Used: Fresh/ dried leaves
Powers: Conscious Mind, Peace, Physical Energy, Strength, Protection & Exorcism.
- Sacred to Demeter, Pennyroyal imparts the wisdom and power of reincarnation.
- It brings a calm strength to any spell.
- Pennyroyal has a long history of use for protection during travel. As early as 1000 C. E. fresh Pennyroyal leaves were mixed with wormwood to prevent seasickness. Sailors would scatter pennyroyal around the ships to calm stormy seas. It has also been said that placing pennyroyal in your shoes will strengthen your body and prevent weariness during travel.
- Pennyroyal leaves can be sniffed to increase physical energy and clear the mind. It is also said that sniffing pennyroyal can help ease dizziness.
- For magick to aid stomach problems, stuff a green poppet with pennyroyal and anoint it with healing oils.
- Pennyroyal may be worn to protect against the evil eye. It is said to break jinxes and protect the home and family unit.
- Pennyroyal can be worn to aid in success in making business deals.
- A herb sprinkler of pennyroyal, marjoram and rosemary can be used to sprinkle salt water around a place to rid it of evil.
- A herb of peace, pennyroyal can help bring an end to quarrels between couples.
- Hang pennyroyal in the home, near the doors and windows for protection (keep away from pets and children). Also utilising protection visualisations whilst inhaling the scent of pennyroyal is said to keep you protected.
- Pennyroyal can be added to summer incenses and protection and exorcism blends for protection magick.
*Please note, oil of pennyroyal is poisonous. Do not use the oil.
In general, common mints such as peppermint and pennyroyal are closely related and as such can be used interchangeably if you do not have access to one of the herbs required for your magickal practice.
The magickal benefits attributed to this herb are not set in stone. These magickal benefits are from a Eurocentric viewpoint, as is my personal background and what I am familiar with.
As always, it is important prior to working with any ingredient that you do your own research. Consult sources from your own ancestral background and draw inspiration from your own intuition. What is right for me in my situation, may be completely wrong for you. If you stick to the general guidelines and look for ways to incorporate pennyroyal into your everyday mundane life, you will start to see the magick that this plant can offer!
Let us know what you think about this fantastic plant. Do you grow it? If so, what has been your experience with it? Do you use it for mundane purposes, magickal purposes, or both? We'd love to hear your experiences.
The information contained within this article has been sourced from a number of sources including:
Mentha_pulegium. (2023, August 15). In Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mentha_pulegium
Cunningham, S. (2022). Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs- Expanded & Revised Edition (2nd ed., p. 198). Llewellyn Publications.
Cunningham, S. (1989). Magical Aromatherapy- The Power of Scent (p. 124). Llewellyn Publications.
Cunningham, S. (2021). Magical Herbalism- The Secret Craft of The Wise (3rd ed., p. 187). Llewellyn Publications.
Grieve, M. (1978). A Modern Herbal (pp. 624-626). Penguin Books.
Smith, J. (2011). Coventry Magic with Candles Oils and Herbs (p. 184). Red Wheel/Weiser.