Economic Botany

, 57:135 | Cite as

Catnip,Nepeta cataria, a morphological comparison of mutant and wild type specimens to gain an ethnobotanical perspective

  • Scott Herron


Nepeta cataria L, the catnip plant, is important in the pet industry for cats and as an herbal medicinal treatment for the fevers, diarrhea, insomnia, and lacking menstruation of humans. A natural mutation of N. cataria produced a novel morphology that warranted investigation to determine how the mutation affected the microscopic features, including catnip’s ethnobotanical storehouse of glandular hairs. The morphology, anatomy, and physiology of this mutant are compared to that of the wild type of catnip to document the major differences. The secondary plant metabolites which facilitate catnip’s ethnobotanical uses are stored in microscopic glandular hairs (trichomes). The trichomes on the mutant and wild type catnip leaves were not shown to differ (scanning and transmission electron microscopy). The feliobotany (use by cats) of N. cataria is discussed in relation to catnip trichomes.

Key Words

Catnip mutations Nepeta cataria 

Literature Cited

  1. Ascensao, L., N. Marques, and M. S. Pais. 1995. Glandular trichomes on vegetative and reproductive organs ofLeonotis leonurus (Lamiaceae). Annals of Botany 75:619–626.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. —,and —. 1997. Peltate glandular trichomes ofLeonotis leonurus leaves: ultrastructure and histochemical characterization of secretions. International Journal of Plant Science 158: 249–258.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bourett, T. M., R. J. Howard, D. P. O’Keefe, and D. L. Hallahan. 1994. Gland development on leaf surfaces ofNepeta racemosa. International Journal of Plant Science 155:623–632.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Britton, N. L., and A. Brown. 1970. An illustrated flora of the northern United States and Canada. Second ed., Vol. 3., Gentianaceae to Compositae. Dover Publications, New York.Google Scholar
  5. Campbell, C. A. M., G. W. Dawson, D. C. Griffiths, J. Pettersson, J. A. Pickett, L. J. Wadhams, and C. M. Woodcock. 1990. Sex attractant pheromone of damson-hop aphidPhorodon humuli (Homoptera, Aphididae). Journal of Chemical Ecology 16: 3455–3465.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Clark, I. A., B. G. Forde, and D. L. Hallahan. 1997a. Spatially distinct expression of two new cytochrome P450’s in leaves ofNepeta racemosa: identification of a trichome-specific isoform. Plant Molecular Biology 33:875–885.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Clark, L. J., J. G. C. Hamilton, J. V. Chapman, M. J. C. Rhodes, and D. L. Hallahan. 1997b. Analysis of monoterpenoids in glandular trichomes of the catmintNepeta racemosa. Plant Journal 11: 1387–1393.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Dawson, G. W., D. C. Griffiths, N. F. Janes, A. Mudd, J. A. Pickett, L. J. Wadhams, and C. M. Woodcock. 1989. Identification of an aphid sex pheromone. Nature 325:614–616.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Duke, S. O. 1994. Glandular trichomes: a focal point of chemical and structural interactions. International Journal of Plant Science 155:617–620.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Fahn, A. 1988. Secretory tissues in vascular plants. New Phytologist 108:229–257.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Foster, S., and J. A. Duke. 1990. Peterson field guides: a field guide to medicinal plants of eastern and central North America. Houghton Mifflin Company, New York.Google Scholar
  12. Gleason, H. A., and A. Cronquist. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. Second ed. The New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, NY.Google Scholar
  13. Hayashi, T. 1968. Motor reflexes of cats toActinidia polygama (Japan) to catnip (U.S.A.). Pages 351–358 in N. N. Tanyolac, ed., Theories of odor and odor measurement. N. N. Tanyolac, Istanbul.Google Scholar
  14. Hecht, J. 1999. Love it or hate it. New Scientist 163: 22.Google Scholar
  15. Hopkins, W. G. 1995. Introduction to plant physiology. John Wiley and Sons, New York.Google Scholar
  16. Hutchens, A. R. 1991. Indian herbology of North America. Shambhala Publications, Boston, MA.Google Scholar
  17. Jones, S. B., and A. E. Luchsinger. 1986. Plant Systematics. Second Edition. McGraw-Hill, Inc., New York, NY.Google Scholar
  18. Kolalite, M. R. 1998. Comparative analysis of ultra-structure of glandular trichomes in twoNepeta cataria chemotypes (N. cataria andN. cataria var.citriodora). Nordic Journal of Botany 18:589–598.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. McCaskill, D., J. Gershenzon, and R. Croteau. 1992. Morphology and monoterpene biosynthetic capabilities of secretory cell clusters isolated from glandular trichomes of peppermint,Mentha piperita L. Planta 187:445–454.Google Scholar
  20., Inc. 2000. The consumer guide to catnip, asp.Google Scholar
  21. Naegele, T. A. 1996. Edible and medicinal plants of the Great Lakes region. Wilderness Adventure Books, Davisburg, MI.Google Scholar
  22. Pate, J. S., and B. E. S. Gunning. 1972. Transfer cells. Annual Review of Plant Physiology 23:173–196.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Schnepf, E. 1974. Gland cells. Pages 331–357 in A. W. Robards, ed., Dynamic aspects of plant ultra-structure. McGraw-Hill, New York.Google Scholar
  24. Serrato-Valenti, G., A. Bisio, L. Cornara, and G. Ciarallo. 1997. Structural and histochemical investigation of the glandular trichomes ofSalvia aurea L. leaves, and chemical analysis of the essential oil. Annals of Botany 79:329–336.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Simpson, B. B., and M. C. Ogorzaly. 1995. Economic botany: plants in our world. Second ed. McGraw-Hill, New York.Google Scholar
  26. Todd, N. B. 1963. The catnip response. Ph.D thesis, Harvard Univ., Cambridge, MA.Google Scholar
  27. Tucker, A. O., and S. S. Tucker. 1988. Catnip and the catnip response. Economic Botany 42:214–226.Google Scholar
  28. Wagner, G. J. 1991. Secreting glandular trichomes: more than just hairs. Plant Physiology 96:675–679.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Wax, L. M., R. S. Fawcett, and D. Isely. 1995. Weeds of the north central states. North Central Regional Research Publication No. 281, Bulletin 772. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Urbana, IL.Google Scholar
  30. Werker, E., E. Putievsky, U. Ravid, N. Dudai, and I. Katzir. 1993. Glandular hairs and essential oil in developing leaves ofOcimum basilicum L. (Lamiaceae). Annals of Botany 71:43–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The New York Botanical Garden Press 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesFerris State UniversityBig Rapids

Personalised recommendations