Catnip (Nepeta cataria)
Catnip is a perennial herb from the mint family which is native to Europe and Asia. It has a square, hairy stalk with typically green/grey coloured heart shaped leaves. Flowers grow in spikes, reaching to about 1cm in length. It is best known for its effect on cats.
As part of the mint family, catnip has a cool, minty flavour and aroma.
Catnip is best started by seeds or cuttings. It will grow in full sun in a range of soil types and climates. Prune well after flowering as the stems can get long and straggly.
Catnip is best known for his hallucinogenic effect on cats. This is caused by neptalactone, an aromatic compound in the oil of the plant that attracts 50-66% of cats. It causes cats to roll, rub, sniff and chew the plant.
Catnip can be enjoyed as a tea or juice and can also be used to season meats and in salads.
The herb has been known to assist with the symptoms of upset stomachs, fevers, colds, colic, pain, headaches, sleeplessness, bedwetting, morning sickness and nicotine withdrawal.
Rubbing cooled catnip infused tea onto the scalp after shampooing has been known to clear dandruff and catnip poultice can help with bites, bruises and sprains.
Facts About Catnip
Catnip used to be a beverage of choice before the introduction of Chinese tea.
Is catnip harmful to cats?
Catnip is not harmful to your cat. They won't overdose on it. Most cats know when they've had enough and will refuse any further offers.
Are only domestic cats attracted to catnip?
Other species of wild cats including tigers, leopards and lynxes are also attracted to catnip, and bees are also attracted to catnip flowers. Alternatively catnip can also be used as a repellent for mosquitos, cockroaches and termites.