catnip

(Nepeta cataria)

               
Conservation Status

IUCN Red List

not yet assessed

catnip

NatureServe

NNA - Not applicable

SNA - Not applicable

Minnesota

not listed

Wetland
Indicator
Status

Great Plains

FACU - Facultative upland

Midwest

FACU - Facultative upland

Northcentral & Northeast

FACU - Facultative upland

Nativity

Native to Asia and Europe. Introduced, cultivated, escaped cultivation, and now naturalized in North America.

 
Occurrence

Common

 
Habitat

Moist to dry. Disturbed sites. Full or partial sun.

 
Flowering

July to August

     
Flower Color

White with pink spots

     
Height

12 to 40

     

Identification

This is a 12 to 40 tall, erect, perennial forb that rises on usually multiple stems from a taproot and fibrous roots.

The stems are erect, light green, leafy, 4-angled, and branched above the middle. They are densely covered with short, fine, white, nonglandular, downward-pointing hairs.

The leaves are opposite, egg-shaped to triangular, 1 to 2¾ long, and ¾ to 1¾ wide. They are on slender, ¼ to 1¼ long leaf stalks. They become smaller and shorter stalked as they ascend the stem. The blades are heart-shaped to wedge-shaped at the base and taper to a point at the tip. The upper surface is green and moderately covered with short, fine, white hairs. The lower surface is grayish-green and densely hairy to almost woolly with short, fine, gray hairs. The margins are coarsely toothed with rounded teeth. The leaves are noticeably fragrant with an herbal, not minty, scent.

The inflorescence is a dense, branched, interrupted cluster (panicle) at the end of the stem and branches. The panicles are ¾ to 2 long and ½ to 1½ wide. The flowers are arranged in dense whorls that are subtended by hairless, broadly egg-shaped, abruptly tapered, inconspicuous bracts.

The flowers are to long. There are 5 sepals, 5 petals, and 4 stamens. The sepals are green and are fused at the base into a 3 16 to ¼ long calyx tube then separated at the tip into 5 teeth. The petals are dull white. They are fused at the base into a slender corolla tube then separated at the tip into 2 widely spreading lips. The upper lip has 2 lobes. The lower lip has 2 small lateral lobes and a large central lobe that is sometimes notched. The lower lip has many small purple spots. The stamens have white to pinkish-white filaments and purple anthers. They extend just outside of the corolla tube.

The fruit is an egg-shaped, reddish-brown, 1-seeded nutlet.

 
Similar
Species

 


Distribution Distribution Map  

Sources: 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 22, 28.


Comments

Early Spring
In the early spring this plant is easily identified. It appears as a dense cluster of grayish-green, fuzzy, mint-like leaves. Identification can be confirmed by crushing one of the leaves to release the characteristic, non-minty odor.


Taxonomy

Family:

Lamiaceae (mint)

 

Subfamily:

Nepetoideae

 

Tribe:

Mentheae

 
Synonyms

 

 
Common
Names

catmint

catnip

catwort

field balm


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glossary

axil

The upper angle where a branch, stem, leaf stalk, or vein diverges.

 

bract

Modified leaf at the base of a flower stalk or flower cluster.

 

calyx

The group of outer floral leaves (sepals) below the petals, occasionally forming a tube.

 

corolla

A collective name for all of the petals of a flower.

 

filament

On plants: The thread-like stalk of a stamen which supports the anther. On Lepidoptera: One of a pair of long, thin, fleshy extensions extending from the thorax, and sometimes also from the abdomen, of a caterpillar.

 

panicle

A pyramidal inflorescence with a main stem and branches. Flowers on the lower, longer branches mature earlier than those on the shorter, upper ones.

 

rhizome

A horizontal, usually underground stem. It serves as a reproductive structure, producing roots below and shoots above at the nodes.

       

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Plant in Early Spring

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  Catnip (Nepeta cataria)
Bill Keim
 
  Catnip (Nepeta cataria)  
     
  Nepeta cataria (Catnip)
Allen Chartier
 
  Nepeta cataria (Catnip)  

 

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