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ative Photo: Gurcharan Singh
Common name: Catnip, Catmint • Urdu: Badranj boya
Botanical name: Nepeta cataria      Family: Lamiaceae (mint family)

Catnip and catmints are mainly known for, and named after, the effects they have on cats, particularly domestic cats. Catnip contains nepetalactone, a terpene, that is thought to mimic feline sex pheromones. Cats detect it through their vomeronasal organs. When cats sense the bruised leaves or stems of catnip, they will rub in it, roll over it, paw at it, chew it, lick it, leap about and purr. Catnip is a 50–100 cm tall herb resembling mint in appearance, with hairy green leaves; the flowers are white, with purple markings. They have sturdy stems with opposite heart-shaped, green to greyish-green leaves. The flowers are white and occur in several clusters toward the tip of the stems. Before the introduction of Chinese tea, catmint was used to make tea by the British.
Medicinal uses: Due to the fact that catnip promotes sweating when used as an herbal tea, it was used for the treatment of nervousness, colds, influenza, and fevers during the Middle Ages. Catnip has also been alleged to aid with flatulence, diarrhea, colic, and other childhood diseases, as well as preventing miscarriages, premature births, and morning sickness.

Identification credit: Gurcharan Singh
Photographed in Pampore, Kashmir.
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