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Nepeta cataria L.


KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassMagnoliopsidaDicotyledons—plants with two initial seed leaves
SubclassAsteridaeA large class that encompasses asters
OrderLamialesAromatic herbs and shrubs, including lavender, lilac, olive, jasmine, ash, teak, snapdragon, sesame, psyllium, garden sage, mint, basil, and rosemary
FamilyLamiaceaeMint family
GenusNepetaThe ancient Latin name of the aromatic plant catnip

About plant names...

Catnip is a North American native. Nepeta is a genus containing about 250 species, all of which are recreational drugs. If you're a cat, that is. A substance called nepetalactone produces a pleasurable and harmless "high" which effects about 50-80% of all cats (lions and tigers too!). Catnip is a member of the mint family, and is sometimes called catmint.

Identification: Plants are up to 3′ (1 m) high, with square-shaped stems. Leaves are triangular to oval in shape, up to 4″ (10 cm) × 2″ (6 cm). Leaf edges have rounded serrations. They are green and slightly hairy above, and grayish from fine hairs below. Flowers are whorled spikes ½-3½″ (1.3-8.9 cm) long, directly attached to the stem, white-to-pink, spotted with purple. Individual flowers are about ¼″ (7 mm) tall, with a top lip and three bottom lobes. The fruits are small reddish-brown egg-shaped nutlets.

Medical: Catnip contains a mild sedative that was used by early Europeans to treat convulsions, coughs, sleeplessness, and anxiety, in the form of a tea. It is also sometimes used as a cold and flu remedy.

Online References:

Illinois Wildflowers

Kansas Wildflowers and Grasses



Plants for a Future, a resource and information centre for edible and otherwise useful plants


SEINet—the Southwest Environmental Information Network

The Jepson Manual

Nepeta cataria (catnip)

7/19/2017 · West Vir­ginia · ≈ 5 × 3½″ (13 × 9.2 cm)

Nepeta cataria (catnip)

7/19/2017 · West Vir­ginia · ≈ 6 × 4″ (16 × 11 cm)


Nepeta cataria description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 7 Oct 2021.

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Nepeta cataria (catnip)

5/25/2009 · Boyce Thompson Arboretum, Superior, Ari­zona · ≈ 17 × 12″ (44 × 29 cm)

Nepeta cataria (catnip)

7/7/2012 · Gibbet Hill, Groton, Mass­a­chu­setts · ≈ 4½ × 7″ (11 × 17 cm)

Nepeta cataria (catnip)

7/19/2017 · West Vir­ginia · ≈ 7 × 4½″ (18 × 12 cm)

Nepeta cataria (catnip)

7/7/2012 · Gibbet Hill, Groton, Mass­a­chu­setts · ≈ 4½ × 7″ (11 × 17 cm)

Nepeta cataria (catnip)

7/7/2012 · Gibbet Hill, Groton, Mass­a­chu­setts · ≈ 6 × 9″ (14 × 22 cm)

Nepeta cataria (catnip)

7/7/2012 · Gibbet Hill, Groton, Mass­a­chu­setts


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