Nepeta cataria. Also known as Catmint.
Catnip is a perennial herb from the same family as mint and it is best known for its popularity in arousing the senses of cats and providing a high, however it has far more uses than that.
Catnip will thrive in part shade to full sun conditions. It will happily grow in the ground or in a pot in well draining soil. It can handle moist soil and is partially drought tolerant. Pruning may be needed if the plant gets straggly or if it grows too high.
Catnip is a short lived herb but it will produce tiny seeds and will self-sow with ease. The leaves can be harvested at any time of the year, but the younger the leaf the milder the taste will be. They can also be dried and kept in an air-tight container.
Catnip is believed to assist with cold and flu symptoms, to ease tension headaches, digestive issues and menstrual cramps. It may also assist with arthritic joints and constipation. It is said to assist with calming, inducing sleep and reducing anxiety. It can also help to heal small wounds, bites and inflammation.
In the kitchen, catnip was commonly used for rubbing on meat before cooking. It can be added into meals or made into a relaxing tea on its own or added to regular tea.
For cats, catnip can be sewn into small bags for them to play with. The cat will only get the high sensation when they brush up against the broken leaves which releases the chemicals.
As a rat deterrent, catnip can be shredded and placed in areas where the rats and mice would normally frequent.
Catnip can also be distilled to help repel mosquitos and aphids.