Thursday, July 30, 2009

Catnip - Nepeta cataria

This is a photo of a bumble bee on a catnip flower.

A bumble bee - a bug.

A catnip plant - a weed.

Obnoxious things? I know this is what it looks like, but my thinking has changed over the years. Most people don't want catnip in their garden and I didn't either in the past. It can be very invasive! But bees love it and anytime I can lure a bee to my flowers I am happy. They are amazing pollinators.
Although it is a weed, catnip has several good uses. It has been boiled to remove the oils. It can then be used to produce an insecticide. It has also been used by humans for its medicinal effects. It has been made into soothing teas, tinctures and poultices. It has also been mixed with tobacco and smoked. It apparently has a minty flavour and a mildly intoxicating effect. I am not a smoker, so I have never tried it. So why do I have it in my garden? Because it is a 'recreational substance' for my cats - mildly hallucinogenic. Kind of like dope! Nice, eh Mimi?


I used to spend hours pulling this stuff out of my garden. I really didn't want my cats rolling around and eating it. I dug many of the plants up in springtime and gave them to my sister who said that she wanted this stuff so she could dry it and use it in cat toys. I had my entire garden clear of this weed, but then Mimi objected!

She wanted me to go out and get her some. She wanted a 'high'.

So I looked this plant up on the internet and found out that it is non toxic to cats. So I asked my sister to bring a couple of plants back to me, so that I could re-introduce it into my garden. Now I have several plants. Funny how the circle of plants goes around, isn't it? Apparently only 2 out of 3 cats are affected by the scent of catnip. Well, I have three cats and they all go crazy over this stuff! Here is a photo of Mimi. She has not had any catnip before I took this picture. She really doesn't need any. She can be quite silly without anything hallucinogenic! Give her some catnip and she goes absolutely insane! But she is still my sweet kitten!

Family: Lamiaceae. Genus: Nepeta. Species: Nepeta cataria.
Common Name: Catnip, Catmint.

1 comment:

  1. I had no idea catnip had so many other uses.
    I would try some of them if I could ever tear the catnip away from my furry friends.