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Secret #9

This plant has so much going for it, it’s hard to limit the words. We use it in our life every day with our sense of smell and taste.


This wonderful plant is used to freshen our breath, add flavor to our drinks and food, add a pleasing scent to a room, settle an upset stomach, ease the stress of a headache, and even to entertain (think catnip!).

Mints Type

There are many varieties of mints used in gardens, your window sills and even in the landscape. One of the easiest ways to identify a plant as to being part of the mint family is the unique “square” stem. When you roll the stem in your fingers, you can feel the stem is not a smooth round shape. Did you know that Lemon Balm is in the mint family?

Egyptian Mint
Egyptian mint used in teas

Mints varieties go beyond the types that might immediately come to mint such as spearmint and peppermint. Here are just a few, and a hint: they are named because there is a hint of the same taste in their name as in their flavor.
Banana Mint, Chocolate Mint, Strawberry Mint, Grapefruit Mint, Mojito Mint, Orange Mint, Ginger Mint and the list goes on.

One suggestion for growing mint is to remember that it is an aggressive grower and you might be better off growing it in a pot where it will be easier to control.

Mint also come in a wide range of growth sizes. Horse mint can grow up to 3′ tall, while Penny Royal Mint is more of a ground cover. Leaf sizes vary as well. One of the smallest is the Corsican Mint.

Corsican Mint

Here is something funny that happened to me; one of those “I should have known better” moments. I had a beautiful, full lush pot of Catnip that I had grown for my two kitties. (interesting to note; not all cats like catnip! I have one who loves it and the other turns her nose up at it and walks away).
One day I decided they had had enough and it was time to settle down, so I set it outside the front door until the next day. Well, when morning came and I went outside, I found several of the neighborhood cats laying on my front porch while others were chasing the squirrels. When I looked at my beautiful pot of cat nip, there was little left of it! The neighborhood cats must have thought it was a treat, and they ate it down to the soil line! Thankfully mint grows quickly, so my cats didn’t have to go without for too long, he-he.

What are some of the ways you use mint? Any favorite varieties?

Victoria LK Williams

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Secret #8

Poison Sumac

Poison Sumac is a highly toxic plant that causes skin rashes and blisters. The rashes can become infected as you scratch. The entire plant is toxic and spreads by the oils within it’s leaves and stems. A high fever may develop in a more sensitive induvial. Those with allergies may react faster and with more urgent reactions.

It is vital to remove the oils from your skin and keep it from spreading. Dont forget to use soap and cool water and really get under your fingernails. If the oil is still there, when you scratch, you are spreading! Clean the clothing you were wearing right away, washing several times in cold water to insure the oils are removed.

Some of the common methods to use are calamine lotion, hydrocortisone creams, local and oral anesthetics.

Even if you burn it in the attempt to get rid of the plant, the oils can be inhaled, leading to a dangerous lung irritation with symptoms of coughing, difficulty breathing and wheezing. It can be fatal.

The big problem with Sumac is it is found in swamps, wetlands, pinewoods and hardwood forest from zones 3-8. It is abundant along the Mississippi River and swampy areas of the south east.

The plant itself is beautiful. In the fall it is bright red and has red stems. In the summer it looks lush and lacy with it’s unique leaf structure. There is a non-toxic variety that is used in the landscape, but take care to be sure to buy the right kind!