Nepeta cataria L. - Catnip

Nepeta cataria plant

Family - Lamiaceae

Stems - To +1m tall, multiple from base, from fibrous roots, tomentose, 4-angled, branching, herbaceous, erect. Plant fragrant.

Leaves - Opposite, decussate, petiolate. Petiole to +/-4cm long, tomentose, with single adaxial groove. Blade triangular to triangular-ovate or ovate, to +/-10cm long, +/-6cm broad, crenate-serrate, reduced upward, pubescent above and below (more so below), grayish-green below, fragrant.

Nepeta cataria leaves

Inflorescence - Terminal clusters of whorled flowers (verticillasters). Brats accompanying clusters barely or not exceeding the flowers.

Flowers - Sessile. Corolla whitish-pink, spotted with purple internally, bilabiate. Corolla tube to +/-5mm long, abruptly expanded near apex, tomentose. Upper lip 2.1mm long, 2.4mm broad, notched or shallow 2-lobed. Lower lip with 2 shallow lateral lobes and large central lobe. Central lobe +/-3mm long, +/-4mm broad, toothed at apex, bearded near throat. Stamens 4, didynamous, exserted just beyond upper lip, adnate at apex of constricted portion of corolla tube. Filaments to -3mm long, glabrous, white to pinkish-white. Anthers rose-purple, .6mm broad. Style 8mm long, glabrous, pinkish-white. Stigma 2-lobed. Ovary of 4 nutlets. Nutlets green, tuberculate. Calyx tube to 3mm long, 1.1mm in diameter, 5-lobed, with 15 nerves (ridges), tomentose. Lobes subequal, attenuate, to 1.8mm long. Calyx accrescent.

Nepeta cataria calyxCalyx.

Nepeta cataria flowers

Flowering - June - September.

Habitat - Waste ground, open woods, roadsides, railroads. Also cultivated.

Origin - Native to Europe.

Other info. - This species is known to have intoxicating effects on domestic cats. Each cat reacts differently to it. The plant is easy to grow and common in the state. Why buy it when you can just go out and pick it?

Photographs taken at the Kansas City Zoo, 6-22-99 and 6-30-00.


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