Catnip Essay

385 Words2 Pages
Catnip (Nepata cataria) Mint Family (Lamiaceae) For Mr. P. Friemann Written by Simon Dunn-Plouffe Catnip of which the latin name is Nepata cataria, is in the mint family (Lamiaceae). Catnip has clusters of pale white or whitish-lavender flowers with purplish spots, in between the flowers, in the clusters, there are soft white downy hairs. The stems are dark green, very thin and have no hairs. The flowers are 1.3 cm long and stem is 30-90cm high. Catnip normally flowers between June and September depending on the area and the weather. Catnip can be found growing wild on roadsides,or waste places, pastures, and even barnyards. This plant is also often cultivated by pet owners in gardens for their cats. Commercially, catnip is grown to be dried then put in cloth pouches that are then sold at pet stores. Catnip, also called catmint in some areas, is well known for its stiumulating effect on cats. Many tales can be found of the crazed behaviour of cats who injest it. (pages 99-100, Hedgemaids and Fairy Candles. The Lives and Lore of North American Wildflowers) Many internet sites refer to it as the marijuana for cats. While it is true that it does affect this animal’s behavior, in reality, most pet owners actually only give their cats the pouches to play with and smell. In England, there is an old tale which states that if the root is chewed catnip would "make the most gentle person fierce and quarrelsome". (p. 99, Hedgemaids and Fairy Candles. The Lives and Lore of North American Wildflowers) Catnip contains a "terpene-like chemical , nepata lactone, which tends to repel insects" (p.577, The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Wildflowers, Eastern Region) and can be used to protect other plants. It is possible that this is the chemical that affects the behaviour of cats. Catnip was introduced to North America from Europe, though the
Open Document