Notes from Herb Heaven

Penny Royal

Perennial pennyroyal is a wild or garden plant. The smallest of Mints, it is found in Britain, America, France and Germany, as well as in parts of Asia. Pennyroyal is a popular groundcover. It is known by many names ~ such as the Mosquito plant because of its ability to repel mozzies. It likes a temperate to cool climate, although I have it growing abundantly in the sub tropical bushveld of Limpopo. Pennyroyal does like a bit of shade and needs moisture ~ it is often found next to streams and ponds. Soil type is rich and moist.

Pennyroyal is propagated by seed or root division. Flowering time is in late summer. The pale purple flowers are set in whorled clusters. It was a royal herb, greatly loved by the early Royals in England, and its medicinal properties were lauded as early as Pliny, who was reputed to have remarked on its flea repelling properties among other things! The American Indians used pennyroyal to repel insects, to relieve headaches and watery eyes, to ease a sore stomach and as a remedy for colds and flu. Pennyroyal tea is used to promote menstrual flow. It will relax spasmodic pain. Do not boil pennyroyal. The volatile oil is an abortifacient.

Give to children with stomach and bowel upsets, but for no longer than five days at a time. The feverish symptoms of measles and whooping cough can be eased with some pennyroyal tea. It is a good remedy for flatulence and abdominal pains. Pennyroyal’s most useful property is that of an insect repellent. Use it against flies, gnats, mosquitoes, fleas and ticks. Since it is a flea repellent – rub pet’s bedding with pennyroyal leaves, fresh or dried, and scatter around and under the bedding. Pennyroyal makes an excellent companion to roses and is a good insect-repelling border for the vegetable garden

Caution: Pennyroyal should not be used over a long period of time. It is abortive and should not be used in pregnancy or while breastfeeding. Consult your doctor or healthcare practitioner if using it medicinally. Use only under supervision


Penny Royal infusion/tea

Two teaspoons of dried leaves 
to a cup of boiling water

Steep for 5–10 minutes. 

Strain and sweeten with honey if desired

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