Nepeta cataria (Catnip)
|Also known as:||Cat mint|
|Habitat:||shade, sun; fields, deciduous woods, woodland edges, roadsides, railroads|
|Bloom season:||July - October|
|Plant height:||1 to 4 feet|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||GP: FACU MW: FACU NCNE: FACU|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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Thick, tightly packed, branched cylindrical clusters 2 to 4 inches long at the tips of branching stems and arising from leaf axils in the upper plant. Flowers are 1/3 to ½ inch long, tubular, the upper lip with 2 tiny lobes, the lower lip constricted in about the middle, the wide, oval middle lobe fanning out and usually scalloped around the edge, and 2 small side lobes. Color is white to pale lavender or pinkish, with darker purple or pink dots on the inside the lower lip. Dark purple-tipped stamens and a white style arch along the inside of the upper lip. The hairy calyx has 5 triangular lobes.
Leaves and stem:
Leaves are generally heart-shaped or oval with a pointed or rounded tip, 1 to 4 inches long and up to 2 inches wide on short stalks. The edges have rounded teeth, surfaces are softly hairy. Stems are square, densely covered in short hairs, and often branched in the upper plant.
The persistent calyx holds 4 1-seeded nutlets.
Catnip can be quite weedy. Many years ago before I knew better, I planted some at home in a flower box as a treat for my cats. It spread to all parts of my yard within a few years, persists to this day, and I may never be rid of it. It doesn't seem particular about where it grows. I've seen it growing in full sun to mostly shade, dry or moist conditions, primarily in disturbed soils.
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Photos by K. Chayka taken in Ramsey County. Other photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?