Plants are our allies

The plant kingdom is a treasure trove of solutions to human problems.

75% of domestic cats love catnip, but this plant is useful for humans too.

It is an unwise action of humanity to carry out actions that result in the extinction of plants.  There may come a time when a virus sweeps through humanity killing all in its path, and there may be a plant that existed in the Amazon that we caused to go extinct that contained a cure for that virus.

People are largely ignorant about how useful plants are to the many problems that humanity faces.  I will concentrate on one plant as an example, called catnip.

Catnip is better known for its interesting effects on cats.  75% of domestic cats and all large cats apart from lions and tigers are attracted to catnip.  This harmless plant gives cats great pleasure: they like to smell catnip, taste catnip, rub catnip all over themselves; they start purring and become quite playful under its influence; though in too large doses they can become aggressive.

For the cat owner catnip has practical uses.  To stop a cat using the furniture as a scratching post, a scratch post given a dose of catnip will encourage the cat to use that scratch post rather than the furniture.  Cat toys that have catnip will result in a higher level of playtime for the cat.

Catnip contains an ingredient called nepetalactone, which is what is attractive to the cats; this ingredient is an effective repellent of cockroaches and mosquitoes.  Rather than use toxic chemicals against a cockroach infestation, catnip is a natural and effective countermeasure against them.  Catnip also provides a nontoxic and cheap repellent against mosquitoes when used on clothes and skin, an alternative to somewhat toxic market mosquito repellents.  There will of course be some people who are allergic to catnip, but for most it is an ideal environmentally friendly solution.

Catnip is also antibacterial, a mild sedative, and can relieve muscle cramps, fever and headaches.

Catnip interests me in finding a solution against the number two enemy of bee’s, the varroa mite.  Plants create chemicals to counteract insects that attack them, and it may be catnip can have an impact on varroa as it does on other insects.  Bees, who catnip depends on for pollination, are not impacted by the chemical defences of catnip, and seem attracted to the plant.  It could be that catnip and plants like it may end the varroa menace to bees.

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4 responses to “Plants are our allies

  1. Thanks for this very interesting post. I grow catnip in my garden, but only one of my cats seems to really like it. However, I have seen both of them rolling about in it. Perhaps this is why they never have fleas, and perhaps this is why I hardly had any mosquitoes this year. Hmmm…..must go roll in the catnip when I’m out there. The picture of the cat looks just like one of mine.

    • Catnip seems to have repellent properties against many blood sucking insects, so you and your cats seem to benefit from your catnip in your garden.

      The cat in the photo was a feral cat, it had a badly injured leg, possibly due to an encounter with a swan. A local resident had tried to catch it to take to a vet without success. I should have mentioned catnip to them.

  2. I used to live in a house with a cat and a guy who hated pets. We used to put catnip under his door to annoy him. and the cat always used to try to get into his room. He never knew……

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