(Nepeta cataria)

Conservation Status
  IUCN Red List

not listed


NNA - Not applicable

SNA - Not applicable


not listed

Wetland Indicator Status
  Great Plains

FACU - Facultative upland


FACU - Facultative upland

  Northcentral & Northeast

FACU - Facultative upland


Catnip is a 12 to 40 tall, erect, perennial forb that rises on usually multiple stems from a taproot and fibrous roots.

The stems are erect, light green, leafy, 4-angled, and branched above the middle. They are densely covered with short, fine, white, nonglandular, downward-pointing hairs.

The leaves are opposite, egg-shaped to triangular, 1 to 2¾ long, and ¾ to 1¾ wide. They are on slender, ¼ to 1¼ long leaf stalks. They become smaller and shorter stalked as they ascend the stem. The blades are heart-shaped to wedge-shaped at the base and taper to a point at the tip. The upper surface is green and moderately covered with short, fine, white hairs. The lower surface is grayish-green and densely hairy to almost woolly with short, fine, gray hairs. The margins are coarsely toothed with rounded teeth. The leaves are noticeably fragrant with an herbal, not minty, scent.

The inflorescence is a dense, branched, interrupted cluster (panicle) at the end of the stem and branches. The panicles are ¾ to 2 long and ½ to 1½ wide. The flowers are arranged in dense whorls that are subtended by hairless, broadly egg-shaped, abruptly tapered, inconspicuous bracts.

The flowers are to long. There are 5 sepals, 5 petals, and 4 stamens. The sepals are green and are fused at the base into a 3 16 to ¼ long calyx tube then separated at the tip into 5 teeth. The petals are dull white. They are fused at the base into a slender corolla tube then separated at the tip into 2 widely spreading lips. The upper lip has 2 lobes. The lower lip has 2 small lateral lobes and a large central lobe that is sometimes notched. The lower lip has many small purple spots. The stamens have white to pinkish-white filaments and purple anthers. They extend just outside of the corolla tube.

The fruit is an egg-shaped, reddish-brown, 1-seeded nutlet.

Catnip is easily identified In the early spring. It appears as a dense cluster of grayish-green, fuzzy, mint-like leaves. Identification can be confirmed by crushing one of the leaves to release the characteristic, non-minty odor.




12 to 40


Flower Color


White with pink spots


Similar Species


Moist to dry. Disturbed sites. Full or partial sun.




July to August


Pests and Diseases






Distribution Map



2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 22, 28, 29, 30.




Native to Asia and Europe. Introduced, cultivated, escaped cultivation, and now naturalized in North America.





  Kingdom Plantae (green algae and land plants)  
  Subkingdom Viridiplantae (green plants)  
  Infrakingdom Streptophyta (land plants and green algae)  
  Superdivision Embryophyta (land plants)  
  Division Tracheophyta (vascular plants)  
  Subdivision Spermatophytina (seed plants)  
  Class Magnoliopsida (flowering plants)  
  Superorder Asteranae  


Lamiales (mints, plantains, olives, and allies)  


Lamiaceae (mint)  
  Subfamily Nepetoideae  
  Tribe Mentheae  


Nepetinae (catmints, ground ivies, and hyssops)  
  Genus Nepeta (catmints)  



Common Names





field balm













The upper angle where a branch, stem, leaf stalk, or vein diverges.



Modified leaf at the base of a flower stalk, flower cluster, or inflorescence.



The group of outer floral leaves (sepals) below the petals, occasionally forming a tube.



A collective name for all of the petals of a flower.



On plants: The thread-like stalk of a stamen which supports the anther. On Lepidoptera: One of a pair of long, thin, fleshy extensions extending from the thorax, and sometimes also from the abdomen, of a caterpillar.



A pyramidal inflorescence with a main stem and branches. Flowers on the lower, longer branches mature earlier than those on the shorter, upper ones.



A horizontal, usually underground stem. It serves as a reproductive structure, producing roots below and shoots above at the nodes.

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Plant in Early Spring




Flower Head

    catnip   catnip  


    catnip   catnip  




Copyright DianesDigitals

  Nepeta cataria (Catnip)
Allen Chartier
  Nepeta cataria (Catnip)  



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Antelope Valley SNA

Baker Park Reserve

Bertram Chain of Lakes Regional Park

Big Stone Lake State Park

Blue Devil Valley SNA

Blue Mounds State Park

Carpenter St. Croix Valley Nature Center

Carver Highlands WMA, South Unit

Cedar Mountain SNA

Cedar Rock SNA

Cherry Grove Blind Valley SNA

Chimney Rock SNA

Clear Lake SNA

Clifton E. French Regional Park

Cottonwood River Prairie SNA

Crosby Farm Regional Park

Des Moines River SNA

Edward Velishek Memorial WMA

Falls Creek SNA

Flandrau State Park

Glacial Lakes Preserve

Glacial Lakes State Park

Gneiss Outcrops SNA

Grey Cloud Dunes SNA

Hampton Woods WMA

Hastings Sand Coulee SNA

Hythecker Prairie SNA

Iron Horse Prairie SNA

John Murtaugh Memorial WMA

John Peter Hoffman Spring Brook Valley WMA

Kasota Prairie

Kasota Prairie SNA

Keller Regional Park

Kilen Woods State Park

Lake Byllesby Regional Park

Lake Carlos State Park

Leif Mountain

Lost Valley Prairie SNA

Margherita Preserve-Audubon Prairie

McKnight Prairie

Minneopa State Park

Minnesota Valley NWR, Rapids Lake Unit

Mississippi River County Park

Mound Spring Prairie SNA, North Unit

Mound Spring Prairie SNA, South Unit

Ordway Prairie

Oronoco Prairie SNA

Oxbow Park & Zollman Zoo

P.N. and G.M. Nelson Wildlife Sanctuary

Pilot Knob

Pine Bend Bluffs SNA

Prairie Creek WMA, Koester Prairie Unit

Prairie Smoke Dunes SNA

Red Rock Prairie

Rice Lake Savanna SNA

River Terrace Prairie SNA

River Warren Outcrops SNA

Rock Ridge Prairie SNA

Rockville County Park

St. Croix Savanna SNA

Sakatah Lake State Park

Sand Prairie Wildlife Management and Environmental Education Area

Sandpiper Prairie SNA

Savage Fen SNA

Seminary Fen SNA

Sheepberry Fen

Sibley State Park

Split Rock Creek State Park

Spring Lake Park Reserve

Spring Lake Regional Park

Springbrook Nature Center

Swedes Forest SNA

Twin Lakes SNA

Vermillion Highlands Research Recreation and WMA

Whitetail Woods Regional Park

Wood-Rill SNA

Woodbury WMA

Zumbro Falls Woods SNA







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