Ground ivy

Common name: Ground ivy, creeping Charlie, catsfoot, field balm, tunhoof, alehoof

Botanical name: Glechoma hederacea

Family: Lamiaceae (Mint)

Worldwide distribution: Native to Europe and south-western Asia. Invasive species in North America.

Local distribution: Common and widespread throughout Britain and Ireland.

Habitat: Woodland, hedgerow, parks and gardens.

Foraging season: Leaves in spring.

Ground ivy

Ground ivy is an evergreen creeper of the mint family, different to true ivy (Hedera Helix) and it’s often considered a nuisance for gardeners because it thrives in shady lawns.

The kidney-shaped leaves are slightly aromatic and in full sun they are sometimes tinged with red. Funnel-shaped mauve flowers emerge in spring and are popular with bumblebees.

Ground ivy has a unique flavour, somewhere in between mint and sage with a mild bitter aftertaste. It can be used as an aromatic herb: just chop finely to add on soft cheese, omelettes and tomato bruschettas.

Ground ivy is effective to help alleviate throat and chest problems, especially those due to excess catarrh, relieving congestion and inflammation of the mucous membranes. Make a tea with the leaves and add a little bit of honey. It has a sharp and refreshing flavour that can be combined with lemon verbena or mint.

The name ale-hoof give us a clue that ground ivy has long been used to clarify and flavour beer before the introduction of hops and modern clarifying agents, as many other plants that has been used for this purpose.

Ground ivy


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2 thoughts on “Ground ivy”

  1. I discovered a lot of ground ivy growing in the wood behind our house. I started foraging last spring and never noticed it, nor about 20-30 other plants, most of which I haven’t yet identified.

    I added some ground ivy leaves to a salad the other day, along with gorse flowers, dandelion flowers, crosswort, pink purslane, chickweed and Germander speedwell.

    I’m so thrilled to be learning about the plants around me and almost horrified that in my first 63 years on this planet I just saw a lot of green stuff and had no idea what a wealth of food and health giving plants I was completely overlooking!

    • Kathy, I am amazed about the fact you have been able to discover so many different plants in just one season!

      Learning about our environemnt is very satisfying, thee’s so much we can do with all the plants growing around us. There is always something new to learn every season.


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