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Species Notebook:

  • Ground Ivy

    Ground-Ivy: creeping Charlie

    Post date: Wednesday, 11 March, 2015 - 00:00

    This is a very common, yet often overlooked, plant of the woodland in spring. Ground-ivy (Glechoma hederacea) is primarily in flower from late March through to June but I have also seen it in flower in the autumn, especially if it stays mild.

    It is a small plant and care should be taken to not confuse it with the similar, but taller, bugle. The kidney shaped leaves are different to those of bugle as well. It is member of the labiate family which includes deadnettles, the woundworts and herbs such as mint and basil . This family have square stems and long tubular flowers which are popular with insects that have a long tongue such as butterflies or a long proboscis like the bee-fly.

    Ground-ivy can be found almost anywhere where the soil is not over run with other taller dominant vegetation and although frequently found in woodland it can also be found on banks and roadside verges. It is a plant that spreads by underground runners that often form large patches and, in the wrong place, it can become a problem. This ability to spread by runners is also how it gets its name as ivy does precisely that too.

    Also known as creeping Charlie this plant has been used as a herb to make a tea rich in vitamin C and the leaves have also been used in salad but modern analytical methods have revealed that this may actually not be a good idea and may have significant ill effects; it is known to be poisonous to cattle and horses. 


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