From Academic Kids

(Redirected from Catnip)

Nepeta curviflora
Scientific classification

Nepeta camphorata (old: N. parnassia)
Nepeta cataria
Nepeta curviflora
Nepeta faassenii (old: N. x faassenii)
Nepeta grandiflora
Nepeta racemosa (old: N. mussinii)
and dozens, if not hundreds, more.
Ref: ITIS 32622 ( 2002-09-05.
NRM, Sweden ( 2002-09-05.
MHoemann ( 2002-09-05.
IPNI Nepeta ( 2002-09-05.
Flora of China ( 2002-09-05.

Nepeta is a genus of the mint family, Lamiaceae, the members of which are known as catnips or catmints, and which includes the Common Catnip (N. cataria) beloved of most cats.

At least three species attract cats:

  • Nepeta cataria (Mentha cataria), Catnip, True catnip, Catmint, Field balm. This is an attractive 50–80 cm (1.5–3 ft) tall herb resembling mint in appearance, with greyish-green leaves and white flowers.
  • Nepeta grandiflora, Giant catmint, Caucasus catmint. It is lusher than true catnip, and has dark green leaves and dark blue, almost purple flowers.
  • Nepeta faassenii, Faassen's Nepeta, Faassen's catnip, Catmint. This species is far smaller than either of above, and is almost a ground cover. It has with greyish-green leaves and light purple flowers.

Of these, both true catnip and Faassen's catnip have a sharp, biting taste, while the taste of giant catmint is bland.

There are dozens, if not hundreds, of catnip species. Also, some Dracocephalums, Glechoma hederacea and some Calaminthas used to be Nepetas.

There is a lemon-scented cultivar of true catnip, Nepeta cataria 'Citriodora'. It looks exactly like true catnip, but it has the scent of and can be used like lemon balm.

Missing image
Catnip blossoms

Catnip and catmint got their names from the unusual behaviour of domestic cats when they smell the bruised leaves or stems: purring, salivation etc. This behavior occurs because the active ingredient in catnip, nepetalactone, a terpene, simulates a feline sex pheromone. The root of a completely unrelated plant, valerian, has a similar effect on cats. Valepotriates, the active ingredients in valerian root, are also terpenes and exert a similar influence on some cats.

Research from the Iowa State University has found that the oil extracted from catnip (Nepeta cataria) containing nepetalactone has been found to be nearly 10 times more effective at repelling mosquitos than DEET.

Medicinal uses

As herbal remedies, catnips are used as relaxants, nervines, sedatives, and as antispasmodics. They are used to alleviate symptoms such as insomnia, stress, menstrual cramps, and gut cramps. The effect is a very mild one.

One recipe for such a remedy is:

Tea: Take 1 teaspoon dried herb or 2 teaspoons fresh herb (aboveground parts, in or out of flower) to 2 dl (½ pint) boiling water, let steep 5–10 minutes, strain out the plant parts, drink 1-2 cups as needed. (Note: do not consume any herbal preparation unless you are sure that the correct herb has been used and that it has not been contaminated with pesticides or other chemicals.)

External links

fi:kissanminttu fr:Cataire sv:Kattmynta


Academic Kids Menu

  • Art and Cultures
    • Art (
    • Architecture (
    • Cultures (
    • Music (
    • Musical Instruments (
  • Biographies (
  • Clipart (
  • Geography (
    • Countries of the World (
    • Maps (
    • Flags (
    • Continents (
  • History (
    • Ancient Civilizations (
    • Industrial Revolution (
    • Middle Ages (
    • Prehistory (
    • Renaissance (
    • Timelines (
    • United States (
    • Wars (
    • World History (
  • Human Body (
  • Mathematics (
  • Reference (
  • Science (
    • Animals (
    • Aviation (
    • Dinosaurs (
    • Earth (
    • Inventions (
    • Physical Science (
    • Plants (
    • Scientists (
  • Social Studies (
    • Anthropology (
    • Economics (
    • Government (
    • Religion (
    • Holidays (
  • Space and Astronomy
    • Solar System (
    • Planets (
  • Sports (
  • Timelines (
  • Weather (
  • US States (


  • Home Page (
  • Contact Us (

  • Clip Art (
Personal tools