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What is catmint?

 Nepeta cataria

Catmint, also called catnip and catswort, is herb most famously known for being able to send cats into nirvana. Belonging to the same family of plants as many mints and deadnettles (the Labiatae family), catmint can be found growing wild throughout the central and southern areas of England – amongst the country’s many hedgerows and field boarders. From England it was introduced to areas of the European mainland, and subsequently Asia and North America.

When it comes to cats, catmint owes its popularity to its unique scent, which resembles both the Pennyroyal and mint. When catmint is bruised it gives off its irresistible aroma, to the point where cats will end up destroying the plant from spending so much time lounging about and rolling in it. This means most transplanted catmints will likely be destroyed unless protected from cats, as they go through minor bruising during the planting process. On the flipside, if catmint is grown from seed, cats might leave it alone, as it rarely gets bruised and thus doesn’t give off its scent as readily.

Catmint isn’t just for cats though, it has been used as a herbal remedy for centuries. For one, it has a similar relaxing effect on humans as it does cats – but not quite to the same extent. In addition, it is widely used in herbalism to treat gastric ailments, such as upset stomachs and diarrhea.