Ground ivy

Ground ivy leaves (Glechoma hederacea)
Ground Ivy, also known as Creeping Charlie and Alehoof, is a plant most at home in grassland and lawns. This inconspicuous plant is actually an overlooked aromatic herb of the mint family.

Table of Contents

Ground ivy: Plant profile

Common names

Ground Ivy, Creeping Charlie, Alehoof, Ale-Hoof, Tunhoof, Catsfoot, Field Balm, Gill Over The Ground, Runaway Robin, Athair Lusa

Botanical names

Glechoma hederacea

Plant family

Lamiaceae (Mint)

Distribution

Native to Europe and south-western Asia, it’s an invasive species in North America. Common and widespread throughout Britain and Ireland.

Where to find Ground Ivy

Ground Ivy normally likes shady and moist places and grows in woodland, hedgerow, parks and gardens.

When to find Ground Ivy

Leaves can be picked in spring.

How to identify Ground Ivy

This evergreen herbaceous perennial grows close to the ground and usually forms a ground cover. The leaves are kidney shaped and sometimes tinged with red if they are growing  in full sun. Stem is square. Flowers are funnel-shaped and mauve in colour.

Ground Ivy lookalikes

It could be confused with Red Deadnettle (Lamium purpureum) or Henbit (Lamium amplexicaule).

Ground ivy leaves (Glechoma hederacea)

All about Ground Ivy

Ground ivy, also known as Creeping Charlie or Alehoof, it’s often considered a nuisance for gardeners because it thrives in shady lawns.

Despite its name, Ground Ivy is unrelated to true Ivy (Hedera Helix). and in fact it’s a member of the mint family. Therefore this herb is slightly aromatic. It has a complex flavour, somewhere in between mint and sage with a mild bitter aftertaste.

Medicinal properties of Ground Ivy

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.

Culinary uses and recipes with Ground Ivy

It can be used as an aromatic herb: just chop finely to add on soft cheese, omelettes and tomato bruschettas. Use them sparingly, because the flavour is strong. On the other hand, it loses most flavour quickly after cooked.

The leaves can be covered in batter to make tempura or added to lamb as aromatic herb. Alternatively, a herbal tea can be made from the fresh or dried leaves

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.

Ground ivy leaves (Glechoma hederacea)

Safe foraging of Ground Ivy

There is no extensive research on the plant’s safety therefore it’s best to avoid during pregnancy or when breastfeeding.

Ecological importance of Ground Ivy

Ground Ivy is an important source of nectar during the spring for bees.

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Alvaro Docio

Alvaro Docio

I am the person behind British Local Food. As a forager and wild food educator, my aim is to inspire you to go outdoors, familiarise with your local plants and make the best of their culinary and medicinal properties, in the hope you'd pass on any knowledge gained down to the next generation.

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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!

    Reply
    • 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.

      Reply

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