Clinopodium calamintha

Tracheophyta MagnoliopsidaLamiaceaeClinopodiumClinopodium calamintha


A short-lived perennial herb of dry, S.-facing banks and rough grassland on calcareous, sandy or gravelly soils. Formerly a pasture plant, it is now largely confined to roadsides, railway banks, churchyards and waste ground. Lowland.



World Distribution

Submediterranean-Subatlantic element.

Broad Habitats

Boundary and linear features (eg hedges, roadsides, walls)

Light (Ellenberg): 8

Moisture (Ellenberg): 3

Reaction (Ellenberg): 9

Nitrogen (Ellenberg): 3

Salt Tolerance (Ellenberg): 0

January Mean Temperature (Celsius): 3.7

July Mean Temperature (Celsius): 16.4

Annual Precipitation (mm): 641

Height (cm): 60

Perennation - primary


Life Form - primary




Clonality - primary

Rhizome far-creeping

Count of 10km squares in Great Britain: 129

Count of 10km squares in Ireland: 0

Count of 10km squares in the Channel Isles: 4

Atlas Change Index: -0.31

JNCC Designations


Scarce Atlas Account

Scarce Atlas Account: 

Clinopodium calamintha (L.) Stace

Lesser calamint

Status: scarce



A warmth-loving species with a preference for dry, south-facing banks which produce sun traps. It is almost certainly native in a restricted area of lowland England, typically on calcareous sandy and gravelly glacial deposits. It was formerly characteristic of hillocky or south-facing lightly-grazed pastures, but is now a truly wayside plant largely confined to churchyards, verges of tracks and roadsides, railway banks and waste ground. 

C. calamintha is a short-lived perennial. Flowering plants are conspicuous in late summer and autumn and flowering extends well into November. The hairs in the mouth of the calyx delay seed drop. Overwintering plants have a shallow spreading, easily uprooted rootstock with short woody stems from the previous year's growth. Plants are destroyed in cold winters and regenerate from a generally copious seedbank. Seedling establishment depends on lack of competition, but plants are readily established on dry ground, rockeries, and in cracks between paving stones. Seed dispersal is inefficient, but may have been better in the days of wooden carts and muddy unmetalled roads.

The outlying localities may be relics of a former, more general spread in eastern and southern England; alternatively, the species may have been planted as a herb outside its main range. The contraction apparent from the map cannot be solely due to confusion with the closely related C. ascendens. Existing colonies are threatened by the flailing of verges, which unless it is delayed until winter or spring prevents new seed replenishing the seed bank, In churchyards and cemeteries the increasing use of rotary mowers is destroying many colonies.

It is widespread across central and southern Europe, into North Africa, the Middle East and Asia. Scattered introductions of this herb south to New Zealand were made by European colonists.



G. M. S. Easy & K. J. Adams

Atlas text references

Atlas (244a)
Stewart A, Pearman DA, Preston CD
1994.  Scarce plants in Britain.