Ground Ivy Plant

Overview

Ground ivy (Glechoma hederacea) is a creeping perennial herb native to Europe and cultivated in North America. It goes by other common names, including field balm, creeping Charlie, gill-over-the-ground, hay maids, robin-runs-away and cat's foot. As part of the mint family, it spreads along the ground forming thick mats, and it is considered in several states to be an invasive weed.

Leaves

Deep green leaves grow on long petioles and have edges with large, rounded teeth. They come in the shape of kidneys and grow from 1/4 to 3 inches long. When they're crushed, they release a minty odor.

Stems

Normally hairless, the stems of the ground ivy plant may sometimes contain short, stiff and pointy hairs. These square-shaped appendages grow as long as 18 inches and play host to numerous flowering branches.

Flowers and Fruit

The two-lipped flowers usually grow in clusters of three or four on leaf axils. These blue-violet blossoms, which sprout in March or April, grow up to 5/16 of an inch long and produce tiny, fruit-bearing pods. Each flower pod holds four egg-shaped nutlets. These brown-colored fruits measure only 1 mm long.

Habitat and Distribution

Besides loving the hedges and waste grounds in Europe, ground ivy thrives in moist shady areas with a soil pH of 5.5 to 7.5. These areas include disturbed lands, alongside paths and roadways, in lawns and gardens, along forest edges and in open woods and pastures. Ground ivy grows in Ontario, Canada all the way down to the deep American South. You will also find it in the state of Kansas and along the Pacific Ocean.

Uses

People use ground ivy in salads, as an appetite stimulant and as alternative medicine. Its use as medicine goes back to the first century when it was considered a cure-all. This herb may have been the first to be brought to the New World by the early settlers. It contains a high amount of vitamin C and oil derived from the plant relieves congestion and mucous membrane inflammation due to the common cold and flu.

Keywords: ground ivy herb, botanical herb, perennial herb, herbal remedy, plant weed, glechoma hederacea

About this Author

Sable Woods worked as a staff member of her high school newspaper and co-editor of the yearbook. In addition to writing for Demand Studios, she has written articles for Associated Content, ELance clients, and for use in marketing websites.