Kingdom: Plantae (plants)
Subkingdom: Tracheobionta (vascular plants)
Superdivision: Spermatophyta (seed plants)
Division: Magnoliophyta (flowering plants)
Class: Magnoliopsida (dicotyledons)
Subclass: Asteridae
Order: Lamiales
Family: Lamiaceae (Mint family)
Genus: Glechoma
Species: Glechoma hederacea
Ground Ivy, Creeping Charlie

   A European native, this hardy perennial is now naturalized in North America from southeastern and south-central Canada to the southeastern United States (excluding Florida). Like many mints, its main requirement is moist soil. Given that, it will grow in shade or sun. I usually find it in lawns and in the woods. It's also reported to grow along roadsides.

   Ground ivy's growth habit is, well, ivy-like. The main stem creeps along the ground, sending out small, but strong, fibrous roots at each leaf axil that touches the ground. The main stem is square, and the long leafstalks are semi-circular, following the same pattern as the paired, opposite leaves. The leaves are rounded, with scalloped edges, and about ½" to 1 ½" across. They're generally green, but they often develop a purplish or reddish tinge. The leaves have a minty scent, which I find pleasant in small doses, but sometimes rather strong when mowing the lawn. Ground ivy can be invasive, and is often considered a weed, though it's also sometimes used as a tough, shade-tolerant ground cover.

   In the early spring, the plant produces upright branches (to 8") which usually bear three to seven, ½" to ¾" purple flowers. The flowers are bilaterally symmetrical (right and left mirror each other, but top and bottom don't) with five united petals and four stamens. The petals form a tube which splits into a small upper lip, and a larger, three lobed, lower lip. These flowers are worth a closer look, especially if you happen to have a magnifying glass.

   I recall picking ground ivy leaves when I was seven or so, and drying them for tea, though I haven't the faintest idea who told me I could. 

summer, in shadespring, in sun

   The paragraph on food uses that I haven't written yet goes here.

   and the paragraph on medicinal uses that I haven't written yet goes here.

   Ground ivy can be grown as a houseplant, though it may be prone to mildew under some conditions, and you have to keep an eye on it so that it doesn't take root where you'd rather it didn't.

   Both ground ivy and its cultivated, variegated form can be obtained from Richter's Herb Specialists.



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