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Nepeta Cataria, the catnip or catmint, an attractive herb resembling mint in appearance and odour, with greyish-green leaves and blue flowers.

It gets its name from the unusual behaviour of [domestic cat]?s when they smell the bruised leaves or stems: purring, salivation etc. It is not known why cats respond in this way to catnip, but studies have identified the component chemical in catnip as a lactone? compound called nepetalactone.

The root of a completely unrelated plant, valerian, has a similar effect on cats, but it is not known what the active constituent of valerian may be.

Classification: Catnip is a member of the mint family, Lamiaceae.

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Last edited May 26, 2001 3:09 am by Josh Grosse (diff)