Phylum: Magnoliophyta - Class: Equisetopsida - Order: Lamiales - Family: Lamiaceae
An escape from cultivation, this member of the mint family is very variable, as there are many forms available to gardeners nowadays..
Common Catmint (sometimes written as Cat-mint) is a rhizomatouis perennial plant growing to nearly a metre in height when competing with tall vegetation, but more often no more than 40 to 60cm tall. The finely downy stems, like those of other mint relatives, are square-sectioned.
Leaves of Common Catmint are greyish green, toothed, and hairy on their undersides; they are borne opposite up the stems. The two-lobed flowers are whitish or pale pink-mauve, and they are very variable is size and shape.
This plant is now widespread throughout Britain - not surprisingly, therefore, this species is found most often near sites of human habitation.
Common Catmint is particularly common on scrubby roadside verges, in hedges and even on well-drained ditch banks.
In Britain and Ireland Nepeta cataria is usually in flower between early July and late September.
Common Catmint is still quite a popular garden plant. The leaves have in the past been used to make tea, while the flowers are reputed to be an effective treatment for coughs. Cats (male and female!) are said to enjoy this plant because it mimics female cat hormones - hence its common name Catmint or Catnip..
Nepeta, the genus, may refer to an Etruscan town of that name. The specific epithet cataria means pertaining to cats.
The Common Catmint plants shown on this page were photographed in West Wales.
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