Lamiaceae: Characteristics, Habitat And Distribution, Species

The Lamiáceas or Lamiaceae are a family of dicotyledonous plants, widely known for having among its members to Mints. This family is also known as Labiada, due to a particular characteristic in its corolla. One of the most representative characteristics of the Lamiaceae or mint family are their square stems and opposite leaves.

This family has a worldwide distribution, the Mediterranean region being the one that contains the greatest number of its members. In this region, some species of this group of plants are widely used in the field of food, as condiments in the typical dishes of some countries.

On the other hand, some species of this family are used in traditional medicine to soothe some ailments, such as stomach pains. Also, several of its components, mainly volatile oils, are used for analgesic purposes. An example of this is the use of oils extracted from lavender plants to help you fall asleep.

In addition to this, the aromas extracted from lavender plants are widely used in the perfume industry. Another example is the use of mint extracts, specifically Mentha arvensis and Mentha piperita , to produce menthol, which serves as an ointment to relieve muscle aches, to treat nasal congestion and to relieve itching, among others.

Lamiaceae are a very diverse family containing around 190 genera, within which up to 5,500 species can be found. Because of this, it is very common to come across plants of this type in the natural world.


Lamiaceae are a family of dicotyledonous plants that are characterized by having the appearance of herbs or small shrubs, whose stems are frequently quadrangular.

They are also called labiate and the leaves are generally simple, opposite or decusate, sessile or petiolate, without stipules. Often the whole plant is covered by hairs and glands that emit aromatic fragrances.

On the other hand, the flowers are perfect or hermaphroditic. However, in many genera the staminate organs are reduced. The flowers are zygomorphic (with bilateral symmetry), arranged in cyymous inflorescences, sometimes very contracted and less frequently solitary and axillary.

The floral envelope (perianth), contains a persistent calyx, is tubular, flared, straight or arched, in addition to having five sepals. For its part, the corolla has five welded petals and is bilabiate with two upper and three lower lobes, to facilitate the landing of insects, which approach it in search of nectar.

The androecium is characterized by having the stamens inserted into the tube, inclusive or exerted (protruding from the throat of the corolla), four stamens in most genera, with the lower pair the longest. The gynoecium, on the other hand, contains a super ovary (located on the receptacle), two solitary carpels and two ovules per locle.

In other cases, the fruit may contain one to four nuts with one seed. The fruit has a hard pericarp (shell) and has a fleshy mesocarp. On the other hand, the seed contains a straight embryo with little or absent endosperm.

Habitat and distribution

Lamiaceae form a cosmopolitan family consisting of about 190 genera and 5,500 species worldwide. They grow in all kinds of habitats, but they generally colonize open places, the Mediterranean basin being one of the regions with the highest concentration.


Some species of Lamiaceae have flavors that are highly appreciated in the kitchen, and many members have characteristic odors such as basil ( Ocimum basilicum ), oregano ( Origanum vulgare ), marjoram ( Origanum majorana ), rosemary ( Rosmarinus officinalis ), lavender ( Lavandula spp.), Thyme ( Thymus vulgaris ), bee balm ( Monarda spp.) And of course all mints, which are part of the genus Mentha .

In food, the use of some of the members of the lamiaceae family is part of some dishes typical of a region. For example, oregano is associated with Italy, since it is used as a condiment in pizzas.

In the same way, basil is recognized worldwide for its characteristic aroma, in addition to being associated with Italy, for its use in the preparation of pesto. In Mediterranean gastronomy, many of these herbs are indispensable.

In medicine, many plants of the Lamiaceae family have traditionally been used to cure different pathologies throughout the world. One of the ailments that can benefit from the healing properties of some of the members of this family, is stomach problems.

In fact, some famous medicines include skullcap ( Scutellaria spp.), Holy basil ( Ocimum tenuiflorum syn Ocimum sanctum ), rosemary, prunela ( Prunella vulgaris ), lavender or clary, among others.

Also, this family is rich in essential oils, especially menthol, which is often used as a penetrating vapor in cough medicines. These pungent oils are invigorating and warm, causing pores to open and perspire.

Thus, many of these plants are listed as diaphoretic in various herbal books. This property can help break a fever.

On the other hand, essential oils are also highly lethal for microorganisms, also conferring protection against the attack of some pathogens.

In non-urban environments it is common to use aromatic mints to help purify the water, in cases where its purity is uncertain.


The Lamiaceae family contains approximately 190 genera, within which there are about 5500 species. Some of the most important are the following:

– Agastache spp

– Agastache urticifolia

– Clerodendrum bungei

– Clerodendrum indicum

– Clerodendrum speciosissimum

– Galeopsis tetrahit

– Glechoma hederacea

– Hedeoma drummondii

– Lamium amplexicaule

– Lamium purpureum

– Lavandula spp.

– Leonurus cardiac

– Lycopus uniflorus

– Lycopus asper

– Marrubium vulgare

– Melissa officinalis

– Mentha spp

– Mentha spicata

– Mentha arvensis

– Monarda spp

– Monarda fistulosa

– Monardella odoratissima

– Nepeta cataria

– Ocimum basilicum

– Ocimum sanctum

– Ocimum tenuiflorum

– Origanum majorana

– Origanum vulgare

– Phrydiuchus tau

– Prunella vulgaris

– Pycnanthemum spp

– Pycnanthemum tenuifolium

– Rosmarinus officinalis

– Salvia aethiopis

– Salvia columbaraie

– Salvia officinalis

– Salvia reflexa

– ocinos saturation

– Nerve saturation

– Satureja thymbra

– Scutellaria antirrhinoides

– Scutellaria spp

– Scutellaria galericulata

– Solenostemon scutellarioides

– Stachys byzantine

– Stachys palustris

– Tectona grandis

– Teucrium capitatum

– Teucrium botrys

– Teucrim scorodonia

– Teucrim psudochamaepitys

– Teucrium chamaedrys

– Thymus vulgaris


  1. Asghari, G., Akbari, M., Asadi, M., 2017. Phytochemical analysis of some plants from Lamiaceae family frequently used in folk medicine in Aligudarz region of Lorestan province. Marmara Pharmaceutical Journal, 21 (3): 506-514
  2. Botanical Consultation Guide II. Faculty of Exact and Natural Sciences and Surveying (UNNE) ASTERIDAE-Gentianales-Loganiaceae. Lamiaceae family
  3. Carovic, K., Petek, M., Grdisa, M., Pintar, J., Bedekovic, D., Herak, M., Satovic, Z., 2016. Medicinal Plants of the Family Lamiaceae as Functional Foods – a Review. Czech J. Food Sci, 34 (5): 377–390
  4. Morales, R., 2018. The labiates (Lamiaceae) from Chile. Annals of the Madrid Botanical Garden 75 (1): e067
  5. The Plant List (2013). Version 1.1. Posted on the internet; available: (Accessed May 04, 2018)

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