Igmú Čheyáka / Catnip

I accidentally harvested catmint seeds the other day, thinking I was harvesting nettle seeds.

This plant is called igmú čheyáka in Lakota, catmint in English, and Nepeta cataria. It is also (perhaps more commonly) known as catnip in English. It’s indigenous to Eurasia, but has naturalized over here. It’s all over the place. I found it growing in Wakpála, but it’s also in my own yard.

This plant produces a euphoric state in cats, but for humans, it’s just a refreshing, mild mint tea with no mind-altering effects. It will settle a stomach or help with a cold.

This is what the shoots look like this time of year, emerging from last year’s growth:

This is what the seed heads look like:

And the seeds I cleaned:

The seeds don’t look different from the seeds of any other member of the mint family that I’ve seen. It would be hard to tell them apart by looking at the seeds. But once this plant emerges, it’s visually different (fuzzy leaves with more rounded teeth), and has a different smell, than other mints.

So if anybody needs catmint seeds, I’m well stocked now…

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