The Difference Between Mint, Lemon Balm, and Catnip
Whether for medicinal purposes or savory preparations, there are countless herbs that are used all over the world. Each herb belongs to a unique plant family, which often has hundreds of members. With so many herbal species looking similar, it is not uncommon among gardeners to often confuse them.
Lemon balm, mint, and catnip are the members of the mint or Lamiaceae family that has 236 genera with over 7,000 species.Thus, being members of the same family, they share a lot of resemblance and family characteristics. So how do you tell the difference between mint, lemon balm, and catnip?
Here are the key differences to distinguish the three herb species!
Mint plant grows from 6 inches to 3 feet high and spread up to 3 feet. It has matte-surfaced leaves that are usually dark green in color.
Catnip plant grows in sprawling clumps 2 to 4 feet high and 3 feet wide. Its leaves are downy and blue-gray-tinged.
In contrast to the two, lemon balm grows to about two feet tall and two feet wide,making it even shorter than catnip. It produces bright green foliage, especially if it gets plenty of sunlight all day.
Fresh mint leaves tend to have a stronger flavor and a menthol taste. It leaves a lingering cool effect on the tongue.
Catnip is much similar to mint in taste, but it is a bit weaker. When used in tea, it gives the tea a woodsy, almost grassy taste.
In comparison to these, lemon balm has a strong lemony scent and citrusy taste. This flavor has to do with the presence of citral, citronellal, and other minor well-known chemicals.
Eating fresh or dried leaves helps treat bad breath while inhaling essential oils improves brain function. Taking mint in supplements helps treat IBS and indigestion.
Catnip is mostly consumed in tea, which helps in relieving nervousness and anxiety. It also helps treat indigestion and insomnia. And like mint, it is also used to cure the symptoms related to gastrointestinal upset and flatulence.
As compared to the above two, lemon balm not only relieves stress but also helps you become calmer and uplifts your mood. It has been traditionally used to gain an increased sense of calmness.
Whilelemon balm, catnip, and mint are all popular herbs from the same plant family, they have different properties and benefits. Now that you know the differences and the benefits they have to offer, it's time to find the best products containing these herbs.