Catnip - Nepeta cataria L.:


This plant is in the mint family. It has the typical mint-style leaf, with small purple-white flowers which bloom around midsummer. Catnip is also referred to as catmint.

Growing Info:

Hardy perennial, prefers sun but will tolerate some shade. Strong root system, by which it spreads readily.

Culinary Uses:

Catnip imparts a pleasant taste as a tea.

Medicinal Uses in Folklore:

Catnip has been said to help one sleep. Earlier confusion has gotten it into the literature as being a mild euphoriant for humans, but further data hasn't backed this up.

Scanning the Scientific Literature:

The erroneous addition to the literature, referred to above, has not been verified: catnip does not have euphoriant or intoxicant qualities in people.

Catnip does contain a volatile oil, cis-trans-nepetalactone, which, when inhaled (but not when eaten) by cats, produces the stimulatory effects most cat-owners have become familiar with. Kittens are less susceptible to this stimuli; it is with maturity that the full stimulatory effects of catnip take place. I am given to understand that these effects are not limited to the domestic housecat, but may also occur in some other species of Felis. However, humans are not susceptible.

There are apparently no harmful side effects known from using catnip.

Other Info:

Culpeper declares this to be an herb of Venus.


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Last Updated: March 7, 1999.