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What Is Creeping Charlie Weed?

By Kathleen Sonntag ; Updated September 21, 2017

The creeping Charlie plant is called ground ivy (Glechoma hederacea L.) by many and is considered an invasive plant or noxious weed by most. It is similar to mints in the way that it spreads through lawns and flowerbeds. The roots grow out of stems that spread in the soil. Creeping Charlie is hard to remove once it gets established.

Medicinal Properties

Historically, creeping Charlie tea was used medicinally to relieve coughs, indigestion, headaches and other ailments. It was used in brewing beer in England before hops was introduced. The leaves are rich in Vitamin C and can be added to salads, but this is not a common practice.


Creeping Charlie has bright green, glossy leaves, square stems and lavender flowers. It grows in moist, shady areas, making a good ground cover, but is difficult to contain. If you plant it in the ground, be sure the location is appropriate for a spreading plant that will take over any area it can spread into. Grown in a container, creeping Charlie can be an attractive hanging or draping plant.


The most successful way to get rid of creeping Charlie is to use a herbicide. It is difficult to dig up because the long stems put out new roots in all directions. If it has spread in your lawn, you may need to kill all the vegetation and reseed the lawn. It takes more than one application of herbicide to completely remove creeping Charlie from an area.


Glechoma hederacea L. has many common names. It is called creeping Charlie, ground ivy, gill-over-the ground, robin runaway, cat's foot (due to the shape of the leaves), lawn ivy and ale hoof (when it was used to clarify beer).


If you plant creeping Charlie, choose the location wisely and be prepared for it to spread. In an area where you need a ground cover, it is an attractive plant and does the job beautifully. In your lawn or vegetable garden, it is a noxious weed.


About the Author


Kathleen Sonntag lives in Carmel, California, where she is a writer, teacher and editor. She is a Master Gardener and writes articles for gardening publications. Sonntag has written and edited reading test passages and has edited children's books, cookbooks and memoirs. Her articles appear on GardenGuides.com. Sonntag holds a Bachelor of Arts from University of California, Berkeley.