Lamiaceae, mint family including: agastache, dead-nettle, nepetas

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I was confused recently identifying a seedling whether it was nepeta cataria or dead-nettle and I realised these plants (and a few others related) - at least in the early stages - were so similar it was worth having a closer look. This is a very personal selection as I have all these plants in my garden (except two which I see nearby) - and they are plants I (and the bees) really like.

This has turned into a moving target as I have to keep adding plants which I realised are in the Lamiaceae family.

Anise hyssop Agastache anisata, I grew from seed

Catnip, Nepeta cataria, I grow from seed. (I have never seen plants for sale).

Dead-nettle Laminum purpureum, self-seeds a lot in my garden

Gipsywort Lycopus europaeus, I see this along the Regent's Canal

Lemon balm Melissa officinalis, I see it in a front garden nearby

Lesser CalamintCalamintha nepeta / syn. Clinopodium nepeta I grew from seed

Mint I think I bought this as a small herb from the garden centre many years ago

Nepeta, Garden catmint Nepeta faassenii

Wild Basil, Clinopodium vulgare I grew this from seed; it came in a promotional packet of mixed seeds


Anise hyssop (Agastache anisata)

Luckily this one is easy for me to identify in my garden because of the anise smell which I don't have from any other plants. Also the colour in the centre of the seedling, at the base of the leaves is distinctive of all the Lamiaceae's I have in the garden.

agastache anisata

Catnip (Nepeta cataria)

nepeta cataria catnip

catnip nepeta cataria

close-up of the catnip flowers

catnip nepeta cataria

Dead-nettle (Lamium purpureum)

I have just been calling this dead-nettle but it needs a proper name. Appears to be red dead-nettle which I think has some variation in leaf colour, not always very purple. Most of my deadnettle plants don't have purple leaves but the odd one did and the ones I often see locally do have purple on the leaves. It's August and not the best time for dead-nettles but as I'm doing the comparison now, I'm taking photos of what I have right now in the garden (8-8-2018).



but looking back at some of my older photos, I see quite a large well-developed dead-nettle


Gipsywort (Lycopus europaeus)


Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)

lemon balm

The buds are yellow. When the flower open the lower part is white and the upper part is yellow.

lemon balm

lemon balm flower

Lesser Calamint (Calamintha nepeta)

lesser calamint

entire pot of plants

lesser calamint

close-ups of some of the lesser calamint flowers

lesser calamint

lesser calamint


I've had this mint in my garden for years, in a pot so it won't take over. No idea what mint specifically but it has buds (August 2018) so hope the flowers will be definitive for identification.


mint flowers just opening

mint flowers

peppermint flowers

peppermint flowers

peppermint flower

peppermint flowers

Moroccan Mint

Moroccan mint

another mint I saw in a neighbour's front garden

Nepeta faassenii

nepeta fassennii

nepeta fassennii

Wild Basil  Clinopodium vulgare 

wild basil

close-up of the wild basil flowers

wild basil

spent wild basil flowers, aside from a few still in flower at the bottom

wild basil


Flowers: all similar Lamiaceae-type flowers
Agastache anisata, pink/purple Catnip, white Dead-nettle, pink Lemon Balm,       white (and yellow)
agastach anisata nepeta cataria flower dead-nettle lemon balm flower
Lesser Calamint,  very light purple Mint, dark pink Nepeta, light purple Wild Basil, dark pink
lesser calamint mint flowers nepeta faassenii wild basil flowers
Flowers: arrangement of the flowers
Agastache anisata Catnip Dead-nettle Lemon Balm
clusters at the top of  the flowering stems small clusters of flowers on the stem under leaves single flowers and small clusters of flowers on the stem
Lesser Calamint Mint Nepeta faassenii  
Stems: all square
upright sprawling at times upright upright
fewer veins more veins    
catnip dead-nettle lesser calamint nepeta faassenii

lamiaceae leaf comparison
agastache lemon balm    

Comparison of Dead-nettle and Nepeta cataria

the dead-nettle on the right is easy to identify at this stage because of the pink flowers

dead-nettle nepeta

the dead-nettle (sprawling) is in the square pot above, nepeta (upright) is in the round pots below

dead-nettle nepeta

dead-nettle nepeta comparison