Ground Ivy (Glechoma hederacea) is a small plant that’s probably in your yard, but keeps a low profile and you may not see it. It’s worth a close look though, for its petite bloom and leaves are striking. It has been given many names over the years, including Creeping Charlie, Crow-Victuals and Gill-Over-The-Ground.
Ground Ivy is a perennial lawn weed that creeps along the ground, often tucked under the grass. It does best in shady, moist areas. The leaves are round to kidney shaped with a bumpy scalloped edge and often with a purplish tinge. The flowers are small and a brilliant blue to violet, with the petals forming a double lip structure. They bloom from March to July.
You will likely smell Ground Ivy before you see it when you cut your lawn, as it’s in the mint family and releases a strong odor when broken or crushed. Like all mints, this one has a square stem. The plant has a long history of being used as a medicinal, traditionally being used to treat lung ailments, asthma, jaundice, kidney ailments and a blood purifier. It was applied externally to treat backaches, bruises, and piles. It is reportedly toxic to horses, but this is rare because of the bitter taste of the plant discourages consumption.
Steve Roark is the Area Forester in Tazewell, Tenn. for the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, Forestry Division.