Nepeta cataria (Catmint)

Nepeta cataria (Catmint) on 7-17-19, #603-10.

Catnip, Common Catnip, Catwort, Catswort, Catmint, Field Balm

Nepeta cataria

NEP-eh-tuh  kat-AR-ee-uh

Synonyms of Nepeta cataria (16) (Updated on 3-5-22 from Plants of the World Online): Calamintha albiflora Vaniot, Cataria tomentosa Gilib., Cataria vulgaris Gaterau, Glechoma cataria (L.) Kuntze, Glechoma macrura (Ledeb. ex Spreng.) Kuntze, Nepeta americana Vitman, Nepeta bodinieri Vaniot, Nepeta ceretana Sennen, Nepeta citriodora (Dumoulin ex Lej.) Dumort., Nepeta laurentii Sennen, Nepeta macrura Ledeb. ex Spreng., Nepeta minor Mill., Nepeta mollis Salisb., Nepeta ruderalis Boiss., Nepeta tomentosa Vitman, Nepeta vulgaris Lam.

Nepeta cataria L. is the accepted scientific name for the Catmint. The genus and species were named and described as such by Carl von Linnaeus in the second volume of the first edition of Species Plantarum in 1753.

As of 3-5-22 when this page was last updated, Plants of the World Online by Kew lists 287 species in the Nepeta genus. It is a member of the plant family Lamiaceae with 233 genera. Those numbers could change as updates are made on POWO.

Distribution map of Nepeta cataria from Plants of the World Online. Facilitated by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published on the Internet; http://www.plantsoftheworldonline.org/. Retrieved on April 17, 2021.

The above distribution map for Nepeta cataria is from Plants of the World Online. Areas in green are where the species is native and purple where it has been introduced. The map on the USDA Plants Database is the same. 

The map on iNaturalist shows where members have made observations. Anyone can join and it is a great website to confirm and share your observations. The maps on iNaturalist are continually updated as members post new observations.

THERE ARE SEVERAL LINKS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PAGE FOR FURTHER READING AND TO HELP WITH A BETTER POSITIVE ID.

Nepeta cataria (Catmint) on 7-17-19, #603-11.

I found this small colony of Catmint while working on a friend’s farm in 2019. I know there are many people who have been wildflower hunting a lot longer than me, but I had not seen any Catmint growing in the wild until then. The wind was blowing a little so most of the close-up photos I took didn’t come out well and I didn’t take more later on.

This Eurasian native is found throughout the continental U.S. and the souther portion of Canada. In some states, it is more abundant than others, and some states report it in only in one or two counties. Apparently, this species likely came to America as a garden plant and escaped cultivation. Even though more Catmint is now found in the wild than in cultivation, it doesn’t seem to be invasive where it appears in wild habitats. 

Of course, Catmint’s most famous feature is the effect it has on cats. Interestingly, though, the response is genetically determined and only effects an average of 50% of cats. Most of my cats have never had any interest other than smelling it for a few minutes than walking off. They look at me like I am nuts as if to wonder why I put it in front of them. Well, those cats have been here for generations. Some of the introduced cats have gone batty… I also have Catmint (Nepeta x faassenii ‘Walker’s Low), which none pay any attention to. 

The species grows from 1-4’ tall from taproots that produce rhizomes which form clonal colonies. Plants are adaptable and grow in full to part sun in a variety of soils in moist to dry conditions. It is considered more drought tolerant than many other species in the family. Information online says habitats include mesic upland forests, streambanks, fields, pastures, old homesites, along railroads and roadsides, disturbed areas, open woodlands, etc. 

The stems are light green, 4-angled, branched, and densely covered with short hair (pubescent). Sometimes the stems have a wooly, matted appearance and look similar to felt. 

The leaves grow in an opposite manner along the stems, being at right angles from the pair below (decussate). Leaves are said to be ovate to ovate-triangular, or cordate (heart-shaped). The margins have prominent rounded teeth (crenate) and the tips are sharply or bluntly pointed. The upper surface (adaxial) is moderately to sparsely hairy (pubescent) with short curved hairs. The undersurface (abaxial) is densely hairy with short curved hairs, appearing woolly or matted (canescent) like felt. The undersurface is also covered with sessile glands. The leaves also have prominent veins… 

The stems end with spike-like racemes with numerous flowers. Unfortunately, many descriptions I have read about the flowers are very lengthy. Fortunately, I am going to try to give you a short version… 

 The flowers are quite interesting but I was unable to get good close-ups the day I took the photos. The Missouri Plants website has several great photos and a VERY lengthy description of the flowers. I guess complicated flowers deserve complicated descriptions. Anyway, I will try to narrow it down somewhat… It is a little difficult to explain without good close-ups. 

The funnelform flowers have two lips, the upper one with 2-lobes, and the lower with 3. The upper lip can be somewhat cream to dull white in color, white the lower whitish with small purplish dots. Flowers have 4 stamens. The flowers are surrounded by an interesting tube-shaped calyx with five teeth and 15 nerves (veins). The flowers and calyx have fine-short hairs (pubescent). The flowers have no noticeable scent… 

The dry fruit  (seed capsule) of the Nepeta cataria are referred to as schizocarps that separate into four ovoid nutlets.

The flowers are attractive to several types of bees, wasps, butterflies, and skippers while the leaves are food for several species of moth caterpillars. 

Maybe I can get back out to my friend’s farm and take some better photos in 2022…

I have enjoyed photographing and learning about the many wildflowers growing on the farm and other areas. My farm is in Windsor, Missouri in Pettis County (Henry County is across the street and Benton and Johnson aren’t far away). I have grown over 500 different plants and identified over 200 species of wildflowers (most have pages listed on the right side of the page). I am not an expert, botanist, or horticulturalist. I just like growing, photographing, and writing about my experience. I rely on several websites for ID and a few horticulturalists I contact if I cannot figure them out. Wildflowers can be somewhat variable from location to location, so sometimes it gets a bit confusing. If you see I have made an error, please let me know so I can correct what I have written.

I hope you found this page useful and be sure to check the links below for more information. They were written by experts and provide much more information. Some sites may not be up-to-date but they are always a work in progress. If you can, I would appreciate it if you would click on the “Like” below and leave a comment. It helps us bloggers stay motivated. You can also send an email to me at thebelmontrooster@yahoo.com. I would enjoy hearing from you especially if you notice something is a bit whacky.

FOR FURTHER READING:
PLANTS OF THE WORLD ONLINE (GENUS/SPECIES)
INTERNATIONAL PLANT NAMES INDEX (GENUS/SPECIES)
TROPICOS (GENUS/SPECIES)
WORLD FLORA ONLINE (GENUS/SPECIES)
WIKIPEDIA (GENUS/SPECIES)
USDA PLANTS DATABASE
DAVE’S GARDEN
MISSOURI PLANTS
MISSOURI BOTANICAL GARDEN
iNATURALIST
WILDFLOWER SEARCH
ILLINOIS WILDFLOWERS
MINNESOTA WILDFLOWERS
KANSAS WILDFLOWERS AND GRASSES
PFAF(PLANTS FOR A FUTURE)
GO BOTANY
FRIENDS OF THE WILDFLOWER GARDEN
UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN
MONTANA PLANT LIFE
MARYLAND BIODIVERSITY PROJECT
GARDENIA
NORTH CAROLINA STATE UNIVERSITY
NEPETA CATARIA

NOTE: The data (figures, maps, accepted names, etc.) may not match on these websites. It depends on when and how they make updates and when their sources make updates. Some websites have hundreds and even many thousands of species to keep up with. Accepted scientific names change periodically and it can be hard to keep with as well. Some of the links may use a name that is a synonym on other sites. In my opinion, Plants of the World Online by Kew is the most reliable and up-to-date plant database and they make updates on a regular basis. I make updates “at least” once a year and when I write new pages or add new photos but I do get behind. We are all a work in progress. 🙂

 

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