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Catnip

Nepeta cataria L.

Catnip
Figure 36.—Catnip (Nepeta cataria)
Other common names.—Cataria, catmint, catwort, catrup.

Habitat and range.—Catnip, a common weed, occurs in rather dry soil in waste places and cultivated land from New Brunswick to Minnesota and south to Virginia and Arkansas.

Description.—Catnip has a somewhat whitish appearance due to the fine white hairs on the stems. It grows to a height of from 2 to 3 feet with erect, square, branched stems. The leaves, from 1 to 2 1/2 inches in length, are somewhat heart-shaped, covered below with fine white hairs. From June to September the plant produces thick flowering spikes at the end of the stem and branches, consisting of many whitish flowers dotted with purple. The plant has a strong odor.

Part used.—The leaves and flowering tops, for which there is a reasonably constant demand, collected when the plant is fully in flower. The coarser stems and branches should be rejected. Catnip oil, which may be obtained from the herb by steam distillation, is used in small quantities as a scent in trapping bobcats and mountain lions.


Sievers, A.F. 1930. The Herb Hunters Guide. Misc. Publ. No. 77. USDA, Washington DC.
Last update March 18, 1998 by aw