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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
Research

Abstract

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 

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Copyright information

© The New York Botanical Garden Press 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesFerris State UniversityBig Rapids

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