Ground Ivy, also commonly known as Creeping Charlie, is a fast growing ground cover with ‘hoof’ shaped leaves. Other names it goes by include Gill-over-the-ground, Alehoof, Gill-go-by-the-Hedge, and Run-away-robin. This plant is not related to Ivy but is, instead, to the Mint family.
You’ll find a square stem and opposite growing, kidney-shaped leaves, similar to other species in this family. On the upper parts of the stem, blueish to violet colored, funnel shaped flowers grow in opposed clusters on the leaf axils. Ground Ivy thrives in moist shaded areas and can be found in grasslands, woodlands, and disturbed ground. We have it growing right in the lawn. Interestingly enough, because of the node system it grows from, this plant survives lawn mowing like a champ! Often times Ground Ivy is misidentified as Henbit (Lamium amplexicaule), Purple Deadnettle (Lamium purpureum), or Persian Speedwell (Veronica persica). All but Persian Speedwell are edible. Look for the creeping stem that roots at the nodes, this is the defining feature of Ground Ivy.
Ground Ivy is known to remove heavy metals such as lead, mercury, and aluminum from the body. The high levels of vitamin C in this plant bind with soft, heavy metals, allowing them to be filtered and removed from the body through the kidneys. This plant is also helpful with the inner ear issue known as tinnitus, which symptoms include humming or ringing in the ear and loss of hearing. Ground Ivy is also often used for respiratory issues, eye issues such as conjunctivitis, urinary tract problems, as well as stimulating the flow of bile.
Ground Ivy is certainly a prolific plant and lucky for us it’s edible. This means we can munch on it with little fear of it disappearing! The leaves taste somewhat pungent, a little bitter, cool, and moist. I find it slightly peppery too. You will find the fresh, young leaves added to soups and salads and eaten similar to spinach. The older leaves can be dried for teas. It was even added to beer for flavor, clarification, and adding to the shelf life, hence the name ‘Alehoof’. As always, taste the plant first, then decide how you would like to enjoy this backyard green.
Potato Wedge Ground Ivy Dip
5 Tablespoons sour cream
4 Tablespoons mayonnaise
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup chopped fresh, young ground ivy leaves
Simply mix all the ingredients together! Enjoy with some baked potato wedges.