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Nepeta cataria

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Lamiaceae (Dead-nettle)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
1 metre tall
Fields, gardens, grassland, hedgerows, riversides, roadsides, wasteland, waterside.

White, 5 petals
The inflorescence is a compact terminal spike of flowers. The flowers are white with purplish spots, measuring between 7 and 12mm across.
The fruit is a 4-parted, oval to oblong nutlet. The seeds ripen in September and October.
A perennial flower with greyish-green leaves. The leaves are oval to triangular, stalked and toothed. They leaves are arranged in opposite pairs going up the upright stem. The stem is roundish or square in cross-section.
Smells strongly of mint.
Other Names:
Cat in Clover, Catnip, Cat's Heal-all, Catswort, Catwort.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Other Information


Nepeta cataria, also known as catnip or catmint, is a species of flowering plant in the mint family. It is native to Europe and Asia, and is widely cultivated in other parts of the world. The plant is known for its small, white or purple flowers and hairy leaves. It grows well in well-drained soil and is often found in gardens, borders, and along roadsides. Nepeta cataria is a herbaceous plant that can grow up to 1 meter in height. It is commonly cultivated as an ornamental plant and is valued for its attractive flowers and ability to attract pollinators. The plant is also used in traditional medicine to treat a variety of ailments, and is known for its effect on cats, who are attracted to its scent.


Catmint, also known as Nepeta cataria, is a popular herb that is well-known for its ability to attract cats. This plant is a member of the mint family and is native to Europe and Asia.

Catmint is a hardy plant that is easy to grow and maintain. It grows to a height of approximately 2-3 feet and has soft, gray-green leaves and delicate, lavender-blue flowers that bloom from mid-spring to early fall. The plant is also drought-tolerant and can be grown in full sun or partial shade.

The main attraction of catmint for cats is its pungent aroma, which is produced by the essential oils in the leaves. Cats are naturally drawn to this scent and will often roll, rub, and chew on the leaves. This behavior is thought to be a way for cats to release pent-up energy and stimulate their senses.

In addition to its attractive properties for cats, catmint also has many uses for humans. The leaves can be dried and used to make tea, which is said to have a calming effect and help with headaches and insomnia. The plant has also been used in traditional medicine to treat digestive problems, anxiety, and other ailments.

When growing catmint, it is important to keep in mind that this plant can become invasive if not properly contained. It is best to plant it in a contained area or to use a container to prevent it from spreading. Additionally, while catmint is generally safe for cats, it is important to be mindful of the quantity consumed, as ingesting large amounts of the plant can cause digestive upset.

Catmint is a versatile and attractive herb that is a great addition to any garden. Its ability to attract cats and its many uses for humans make it a great choice for gardeners looking for a multi-functional plant. With proper care and containment, catmint is a low-maintenance plant that will provide both you and your feline friends with many years of enjoyment.

In addition to being a great plant for gardens, catmint is also a great option for landscaping. Its delicate blue flowers and soft, gray-green leaves make it a great choice for border plantings, rock gardens, and mixed herb gardens. The plant's compact size and low maintenance requirements also make it a great choice for small gardens and patio spaces.

One thing to keep in mind when planting catmint is to give it plenty of room to grow. Although it is a compact plant, it can spread rapidly and can become invasive if not properly contained. For this reason, it is best to plant catmint in a contained area or to use a container to prevent it from spreading.

Another important aspect of growing catmint is to choose the right location. This plant prefers well-drained soil and full sun or partial shade. If the soil is heavy or poorly drained, it is best to amend it with compost or other organic matter to improve its structure. Additionally, it is important to keep the soil evenly moist, but not waterlogged, to prevent root rot.

When it comes to caring for catmint, there are a few simple steps you can follow to keep your plant healthy and attractive. First, deadhead the plant regularly to encourage continuous blooming. Second, cut back the plant after it has finished blooming to encourage new growth. Finally, divide the plant every two to three years to keep it healthy and prevent it from becoming overcrowded.

Catmint is also a great plant for attracting pollinators to your garden. Its delicate blue flowers are a popular source of nectar for bees, butterflies, and other beneficial insects. By planting catmint in your garden, you can help support local ecosystems and improve the overall health of your garden.

In addition to its ornamental value and its benefits for wildlife, catmint is also a great herb for culinary use. The leaves can be used fresh or dried in a variety of dishes, such as soups, stews, and sauces. The plant's flavor is similar to that of mint, with a slightly more pungent and peppery taste.

When it comes to harvesting catmint, the best time to do so is just before the plant starts to bloom. At this time, the leaves will be at their most flavorful and the plant will be at its most fragrant. To harvest the leaves, simply snip off a few stems and use them fresh or dry them for later use.

One of the great things about catmint is its versatility. Whether you're a gardener, a cat lover, a cook, or a wildlife enthusiast, this herb has something to offer. So, if you're looking for a low-maintenance, attractive, and useful herb to add to your garden, consider planting catmint today!

In conclusion, catmint is a must-have herb for any garden. With its attractive flowers, pungent aroma, and many uses, it is a great choice for gardeners of all levels. So, why not give catmint a try and see for yourself why this herb is so popular among gardeners and cat lovers alike.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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