Ground-ivy – characteristics, cultivation and use

ground-ivy flower
ground-ivy flower © Stephan Budke

Ground-ivy is a herb that does not necessarily meet with much love in many gardens. Due to the plant’s robust rhizome system, it can easily spread over many areas. But the plant is much more than a “weed”. Because of its vitamin C content and because of its very distinctive taste Ground-ivy is a valuable asset for the medicine cabinet and the kitchen. It also contains many other valuable ingredients, which can help with kidney problems or abscesses.

Profile of ground-ivy:

Scientific name: Glechoma hederacea

Plant family: mint family (family Lamiaceae)

Other names: gill-over-the-ground, creeping charlie, alehoof, tunhoof, catsfoot, field balm, run-away-robin, creeping jenny

Sowing time / Planting time: August – October

Flowering period: April – July

Harvest time: April – August

Useful plant parts: leaves, flowers, shoots

Location: shady to partially shaded

Soil quality: nutrient-rich and moderately moist soils

These information are for temperate climate

Use as a medicinal herb: bladder and kidney problems, abscesses, pharyngitis

Use as aromatic herb: herb butter, wild herb salads, egg dishes, desserts

Plant characteristics and classification of ground-ivy

Origin and occurrence of Ground-ivy

Ground-ivy is a native plant to Europe. It is only missing on the Balearic Islands, Crete, the Faroe Islands, Iceland, Spitsbergen and Turkey. In Central Europe it is very common. It also appears in Western and Northern Asia to Japan, Hong Kong and Tonkin. In New Zealand, USA and Canada it was introduced by humans.

The plant prefers humid, heavy, fertile and calcareous soils. Often, this plant is also found on forest edges, hedges and meadow bushes, forests with moderately moist to moist soils that are less acidic and meadows.

Plant order of ground-ivy

Ground-ivy belongs to the mint family and is distantly related to other known herbs and spices such as rosemary or thyme.

The genus Glechoma consists of eight known species. In addition to the true Ground-ivy described here is the Great Ground-ivy/Nakai (Glechoma longituba) of importance. This plant is mainly used in Asia as a medicinal plant.

Characteristics of Ground-ivy


Ground-ivy is a perennial herbal plant and is considered a typical ground cover. The plant usually reaches stature heights up to 30 cm (12 in).


It usually forms juicy green leaves in heart or kidney shape. The round and clearly stalked leaves are up to 4 cm (1.6 in) wide and face each other opposite. The round stems usually crawl on the ground and form numerous nodes where the plant forms new foothills.


Ground-ivy is a typical early bloomer. The flowers are usually expected between April and July. From each axil grow about 3 to 4 violet to blue flowers. Characteristic of the flowers are the triangular teeth, which are located on the upper lip. The upper lip is usually short, whereas the lower lip is rather wide. The flowers are usually hermaphrodite.


From the blossoms develop small nut fruits, which are called schizocarps. Each of the four fruits is referred to as a schizocarp. A characteristic feature are the small light gray appendages to the seed, which are designated in botany as elaiosome. They serve the propagation by insects, above all by ants.

ground-ivy © Stephan Budke

Ground-ivy – cultivation and care

The plant can be raised in two ways: as seed and offspring.


The sowing takes place in the last summer days directly in the field. Alternatively, the plant can be precultured in the home and planted outdoors in the spring. Easier is the cultivation of offshoots. Ground-ivy roots very quickly and forms after a short time many runners, which grow into dense, flat carpets. By its shallow roots ground-ivy contributes to the fact that soils are protected from erosion. The plant is also suitable for window boxes.


Optimal location for Ground-ivy are shady to partially shaded locations. In nature, the herbs are found above all on soils that are rich in nutrients, including wild meadows and forests. Cultivated, Ground-ivy usually needs a bit more water and only moderate fertilizer. However, the plant is quite persistent and undemanding, so that stress phases are usually well tolerated.


At the end of the growing season, the foliage of Ground-ivy withers, but with the first sunshine in February shoots again; the herb is perennial.

Ground-ivy and its use

The herb is relatively unknown, although it has numerous medicinal properties and gives food dishes a delicate taste.

Ground-ivy in the kitchen

If you want to use Ground-ivy for the preparation of food, you can use both the young leaves and the flowers. Thanks to its savory, slightly spicy and bitter taste, it gives dishes an interesting note, which is excellent in summer salads and as an ingredient for herb butter or herbal quark. However, not too many herbs should be added when using, as the Ground-ivy can easily dominate the taste.

Ground-ivy excellently fits in the kitchen with pan dishes, such as Fried potatoes or for hearty pancakes. He is also sometimes used to game meat dishes or for wild herb salads.

The flowers are a fine decoration on smoothies or desserts.

Ground-ivy as a medicinal herb

Through its expectorant ingredients the herb is used as a gargle solution for problems in the throat area, but also acts as a diuretic for colds and bladder and kidney problems. And last but not least Ground-ivy is a herb against inflammation and abscesses.

For the ancient Teutons the plant was a frequently used medicinal plant. Thus, Hildegard von Bingen and Kneip mentioned the Ground-ivy already in their work as a medicinal herb. There it was used for ailments and complaints in the ear, nose and throat area. In the late Middle Ages, however, the plant hardly had any meaning.

Ground-ivy can be used for these ailments and diseases

  • bladder weakness
  • chronic cold
  • chronic cough
  • convalescence
  • kidney weakness

Medicinal properties

  • anti-inflammatory
  • expectorant
  • metabolic promoting

For internal use, a tea is boiled, a tincture prepared, squeezed juice or cooked the herb in milk.

Ground-ivy contains many essential oils, so the herb used to be boiled in milk. The oils are bound by the fat content of the milk and do not go so easily.

Preparation of Ground-ivy in milk

For the preparation in milk use fat milk. Boil two tablespoons of the fresh herb with 500 ml (17 fl oz) of milk and let it steep for 15 minutes, strain and drink warm. The milk is also suitable as a strengthening agent.

Preparation of Ground-ivy tea

Time needed: 10 minutes

This is how to prepare a ground-ivy tea by yourself

  1. put 1 tablespoon of the herb in a tea strainer in a cup

  2. dash with boiling water

  3. let brew for 10 minutes

For colds, bladder and kidney problems and mucous congestion of the lungs drink two cups a day. In addition, the tea is appetizing and can relieve pain.

The tea can also be used for washes or dressings for wounds. As a mouthwash, it helps with toothache and purulent gingivitis.

Preparation of Ground-ivy juice

With a herbal press one can press a herbal juice from the Ground-ivy. For complaints, take a tablespoon three times a day (children once a day a tablespoon).

If you do not have a herb press, you can also crush the herb with a little water in the smoothie mixer and, if necessary, strain it through a cloth.

Preparation of Ground-ivy tincture

The tincture can be made from the juice of Ground-ivy or from the finely cut herb. The juice is mixed to the same amount with high-percentage alcohol or the alcohol is poured over the cut cabbage, so that everything is covered.

Leave for three weeks, then strain and fill in a dark dropper bottle.

Preparation of Ground-ivy bath additive

For poorly healing, purulent wounds or ulcers can also help with a bath. On this, a handful of herb is added to a liter of water and boiled. For a full bath recommend five liters bath additive.

Miracle leaflet oil

A special feature is the so-called miracle leaflet oil. It is used to rub badly healing wounds.

For the miracle leaflet oil, you need two large hands full of fresh herb, put them in a screw-top jar and pound them together like Sauerkraut. If the leaflets are tightly pressed, place the closed jar in a warm and sunny place for a few days. A liquid forms on the bottom of the glass, which is then strained and kept cool in a dark bottle. The oil is produced in midsummer, preferably around solstice.


Ask your doctor or pharmacist. Visiting this page can not replace the visit to the doctor. For serious or unclear complaints, consult your doctor.

Buy Ground-ivy – What is there to pay attention to?

Ground-ivy is very rare to buy as a plant or as a fresh herb. Some perennial gardening shop offer potted plants. From time to time you will find the white-colored Ground-ivy (Glechoma hederaceae Variegata) in some plant centers, which is usually sold there as a hanging plant. The prices are between 2 and 8 EUR/$.

Some shops offer Ground-ivy seeds. The prices for seeds are between 1.50 and 3 EUR/$ for a package.

In some online shops you can also buy dried Ground-ivy herb. Prices are between 50 and 80 EUR/$ per kilo (2.2 lbs).

In many areas of Central Europe, however, Ground-ivy can also collect himself in the spring. Most of the plants are found there, where nettles are also found.

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