Scientific NameNepeta cataria
Other Common Names:
This erect perennial can grow up to 5 ft in height, and flowers from June to September. It propagates both through seeds, and also by spreading roots.
The leaves grow on square, branched stems. The 1 to 2 1/2 inch leaves are hairy on both surfaces and silvery underneath. Leaves are heart shaped and have jagged edges. Both stems and leaves are covered with white hairs, and when crushed, leaves smell strongly of mint.
This plant contains the chemical nepetalactone, which is concentrated in special glands on the leaf surfaces. It is this chemical that attracts cats to this plant. Catnip is also used in tea as a sedative or put in salads. The strong odor and white hairs are identification characteristics.
Flower Seed Head
Flowers occur in thick spikes at the ends of stems and branches. Individual flowers are whitish with lavender spots.
Fruit is dark brown with short hairs and 1.3 to 1.5 mm long. The small, black seeds are less than 1 mm in diameter.
This plant is native to Europe and Asia, but has naturalized in North America. It prefers full sun, and dry soil in both waste and cultivated land.
upright and nonwoody
Thorns or Spines
Approximate Flower Diameter
Dominant Flower Color
shorter than leaf
Stem Cross Section
square or multi-edged