Ground Ivy - Glechoma hederacea Ground Ivy - Glechoma hederacea

Herb: Ground Ivy

Latin name: Glechoma hederacea

Synonyms: Nepeta glechoma, Nepeta hederacea

Family: Labiatae

Medicinal use of Ground Ivy:

Ground ivy is a safe and effective herb that is used to treat many problems involving the mucous membranes of the ear, nose, throat and digestive system. A well-tolerated treatment it can be given to children to clear lingering catarrh and to treat chronic conditions such as glue ear and sinusitis. Throat and chest problems, especially those due to excess catarrh, also benefit from this remedy. The leaves and flowering stems are anodyne, antiphlogistic, appetizer, astringent, digestive, diuretic, febrifuge, pectoral, gently stimulant, tonic and vermifuge. They are best harvested in May whilst still fresh, and are dried for later use. The leaves are used in the treatment of hypersensitivity in children and are useful in the treatment of kidney diseases and indigestion. Applied externally, the expressed juice speeds the healing of bruises and black eyes. Use with caution.

Description of the plant:


20 cm
(7 3/4 inch)

to May

Habitat of the herb:

Damp waste ground, hedgerows and woodland margins.

Edible parts of Ground Ivy:

Young leaves - raw or cooked. The leaves have a bitter flavour, they can be mixed into salads to add a slight aromatic tang. They can also be cooked like spinach, added to soups etc or used as a flavouring. Available very early in the year. A herb tea is made from the fresh or dried leaves. It is often used mixed with verbena leaves. The herb has been added to beer in much the same way as hops in order to clear it and also to improve its flavour and keeping qualities. This species was the most common flavouring in beer prior to the use of hops from the 16th century onwards.

Other uses of the herb:

A good ground cover plant for shady places. It is rather vigorous though and can swamp smaller plants.

Propagation of Ground Ivy:

Seed - we have no information for this species but suggest sowing the seed in situ as soon as it is ripe, or in the spring. Division in spring or autumn. Very easy, larger clumps can be replanted direct into their permanent positions, though it is best to pot up smaller clumps and grow them on in a cold frame until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the spring.

Cultivation of the herb:

Damp waste ground, hedgerows and woodland margins.

Known hazards of Glechoma hederacea:

A report in the medicinal uses says the plant should be used with caution, no reason is given. Another report says that the plant might be toxic to horses.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.