En Español

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Monday - December 19, 2005

From: Greensboro, NC
Region: Southeast
Topic: Edible Plants, Medicinal Plants, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Odor and flavor of oils in Mints as insect repellants
Answered by: Nan Hampton and Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

I am trying to find information on "How does mint plants repel insects" It's for my grand daughter's science project. Any help will be appreciated. Thank you

ANSWER:

Most of the species of the Family Lamiaceae (Mint Family), when crushed, produce a strong minty odor, usually pleasant to human noses. The odor comes from volatile oils produced by the plants. Here are names for some of these compounds occurring in various species of the mint family: menthol, carvone, linalool, eucalyptol, borneol, estragol, camphor, and many more. Extracts of these compounds from various members of the mint family have been used by humans in cosmetics, to flavor food, for medicinal purposes, to stimulate their pets (catnip, Nepeta cataria) and as insecticides and fungicides. Many plants of the mint family are resistant to browsing by deer and other animal grazers because of the strong odor and flavor produced by the oils. These volatile oils from mint plants repel many insects, function to keep the insects from feeding, and in many cases, when extracted and used as a spray, can result in the death of insects in one or more of the their life stages: adults, larvae, or eggs.

 

More Edible Plants Questions

Edible native plants in New York
July 29, 2013 - In your plant database- which is great by the way- it does not say whether or not the plant is edible. Do you have any way to search for edible plants? Or do you have a separate database? Thanks!
view the full question and answer

Garden crop to plant in July in Austin
July 16, 2010 - I've just been given access to a plot at Sunshine Gardens and must plant something within 30 days. What would be a good planting crop for the middle of July that would be successful for harvesting i...
view the full question and answer

Black chokeberry edible from Huntsville ON
May 04, 2013 - Can the fruit of the black chokeberry be eaten??
view the full question and answer

Use of cenizo (Leucophyllum frutescens) for tea
February 20, 2006 - Back in the 50's when I spent the summers with my grandmother south of Hondo, Texas, she use to pick leaves from the cenizo (purple sage) bushes, dry them and then brew them for tea. I asked one of m...
view the full question and answer

Edible native salad ingredients
May 28, 2009 - Hi, I'm hoping to make a salad for a school Horticulture project, but I'm having a hard time finding some edible plants. I live in Vermont, and am hoping to find some edible flowers and 'weeds' a...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center