About CatnipCatnip can grow up to three feet tall and is a gray-green perennial with square stems, heart-shaped leaves, and terminal flower spikes that are similar to plants found in the mint family. Catnip or catmint as it is sometimes called loves full sun and usually blooms from late spring to autumn and has purple flowers. It is drought tolerant and deer resistant. Best of all, catnip is a repellent for certain insects like aphids and squash bugs in the garden and bees love this plant.
Catnip is found in American folk medicine as well as in Native American healing practices. The most common use of catnip was a tea that was given to children for an upset stomach or sleeplessness. Catnip is used by the Hoh, Rappahannock, Delaware, and Iroquois tribes for children's complaints such as colds, fever, chills, diarrhea, stomach aches, and headaches. The Cherokee use an infusion of leaves with honey for coughs and the Chippewa make a simple decoction of leaves that were given to someone with a fever.
The Delaware combine the leaves with peach seeds to make a tonic for children and the Keres use an infusion of the plant for a bath for tiredness. The Mohegans use an infusion of leaves to treat colic in children and also used the leaves in a bath to raise the temperature of the body. The Ojibwa used an infusion of the leaves as a blood purifier and the Okanagan-Colville used the top of the plants for colds. The Shinnecock would dry the leaves and smoke them in a pipe to help treat rheumatism.
Did you know...Not only domestic cats but also jaguars, tigers, leopards, and lions are attracted by catnip and exhibit the same behavior as domestic cats. They are responding to the scent of nepetalactone, the aromatherapeutic element in this plant.
Nepeta catataria is thought to have taken its name from the Etrurian city of Neptic -- today the town Nepi in the province of Viterbo, Italy.
In the 11th century, Europe catnip was prized for its ability to calm nervousness and to promote restful sleep.
About one-third of cats are not affected by catnip! The behavior is hereditary.