Ground ivy: Plant profile
Ground Ivy, Creeping Charlie, Alehoof, Ale-Hoof, Tunhoof, Catsfoot, Field Balm, Gill Over The Ground, Runaway Robin, Athair Lusa
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).
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.
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.