Ground Ivy - Glechoma hederacea

Family: (Mint) [E-flora]

Habitat / Range
Mesic waste places, lawns, and open forests in the lowland zone; frequent in SW BC, infrequent in C and SC BC; introduced from Eurasia. [IFBC-E-flora]

Origin Status: Exotic [E-flora]



"Glechoma hederacea is an evergreen Perennial growing to 0.2 m (0ft 8in) by 1 m (3ft 3in) at a fast rate. It is not frost tender. It is in leaf 12-Jan It is in flower from Mar to May. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees.It is noted for attracting wildlife.
Suitable for: medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and can grow in heavy clay soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil." [PFAF]

General: Perennial herb from slender stolon and fibrous roots; stems reclining, trailing, 10-40 cm long, hairy, at least at nodes, to almost glabrous, 4-angled; rooting at nodes. [IFBC-E-flora]
Leaves: Stem leaves only, opposite, heart- to kidney-shaped, 1-4 cm wide, coarsely blunt-toothed, green or tinged with purple, glabrous or hairy; stalks 1-3 cm long. [IFBC-E-flora]
Flowers: Inflorescence loose, of few-flowered axillary flower clusters; bracts bristle-like; stalks short; corollas tubular, hairy within at base of lower lip, mostly 13-23 mm long, purplish-blue, purple-spotted on lower lip, the upper lip shallowly 2-lobed, the larger lower lip with short lateral lobes and broad middle lobe; calyces tubular, 3-7 mm long, 15-veined, minutely rough-hairy, upper 3 teeth longer than lower 2. [IFBC-E-flora]
Fruits: Nutlets, 4 clustered together, egg-shaped, brown. [IFBC-E-flora]
Characteristics: The plant has a mild unpleasant smell; the taste is hot and bitter. [PDR]


Edible Uses

Ground ivy is listed by the Council of Europe as a natural source of food flavouring (category N3). This category indicates that ground ivy can be added to foodstuffs in the traditionally accepted manner, although there is insufficient information available for an adequate assessment of potential toxicity.(G16)[HerbalMed3]

Medicinal Uses

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[254]. 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[254]. Throat and chest problems, especially those due to excess catarrh, also benefit from this remedy[254]. [PFAF] "The medicinal parts are the herb collected during the flowering season and dried, the fresh aerial parts collected during the flowering season, and the whole plant." [PDR]


"In folk medicine, the drug is used internally for inflammation of gastrointestinal mucous membranes and diarrhea. Ground Ivy is also used for mild respiratory complaints of the upper bronchia; in the symptomatic treatment of coughs; and as a diuretic in cases of bladder and kidney stones. Externally, the drug is used for the treatment of poorly healing wounds, ulcers and skin diseases. In Italy, it is used for arthritis and rheumatism." [PDR]

"While I would not quite go along with Gerard in saying, "It [ground-ivy] is proved to be the best medicine in the world," I would join Culpepper in saying, "It is a singular herb for an inward wounds, and. . . [expels] melancholy by opening the stoppings of the spleen."" [Whitney MWPP]

"Those who are exposed to possible lead poisoning, such as painters, and those who handle lead-bearing agricultural sprays, should take four wineglasses of cold ground-ivy infusion per day, and when used for this purpose the addition of orange juice would be advantageous, as it would increase the vitamin C content. When the body is well supplied with vitamin C, any lead that is accidentally introduced into the system combines with this vitamin and is harmlessly excreted through the kidneys. If vitamin C is not present, the lead accumulates, and if one is continuously exposed to it, it can soon reach dangerously poisonous levels. Of course, the vitamin C is destroyed if the process of eliminating unwanted lead, so the supply must be continually renewed. Those exposed to lead contamination have a far higher vitamin C requirement than do people not so exposed." [Whitney MWPP]

Select Indications (Ground Ivy) — Asthma (f; CRC; FAD); Arthrosis (f; CRC; PH2); Backache (f; CRC; FAD); Bronchosis (f; CAN; PH2); Bruise (f; CRC; FAD); Catarrh (f; CAN; PHR); Cold (f; CRC; DEM); Cough (f; PHR; PH2); Cystosis (f; CAN; PH2); Dermatosis (f; PHR; PH2); Dysmenorrhea (f; PHR; PH2); Enterosis (f; PHR; PH2); Gastrosis (f; CAN; PHR; PH2); Gout (f; CRC; MAD); Headache (f; CRC; MAD); Hemorrhoid (f; CAN; CRC; PH2); Inflammation (1; CRC; PHR; PH2; PNC); Pain (f; CRC; PH2); Pulmonosis (f; CRC; FAD); Respirosis (f; PHR; PH2); Rheumatism (f; CRC; PH2); Stone (f; CRC; PHR; PH2); Ulcer (1; CAN; CRC; PHR); Water Retention (f; CAN; CRC; PH2); Wound (f; CRC; PHR; PH2) [HMH Duke]


"The drug is said to be an anti-inflammatory, which is believed to be due to the tripterpen content. No detailed information is available." [PDR]

"Extracts (Ground Ivy) — Documented pharmacological activities support some of the herbal uses. Ethanol extracts are antiinflammatory and antiedemic; 2-alpha and 2-beta-hydroxyursolic acids protect mice from ulcers. Ursolic acid also demonstrates cytotoxic activity against lymphocytic leukemia, human lung carcinoma, and marginal activity against human colon and mammary tumors. Astringent and antiinflammatory activity is attributed (CAN) to its rosmarinic activity (which deserves a whole lot more praise than those two minor activities)." [HMH Duke]

"... the herb had the power to clear the brain, usually within twenty-four hours. Many subsequent authors have attested to its action on the mucous membranes, which have caused it to be extensively prescribed and used for cleansing the system as a whole as well as, more specifically, as an expectorant or inhalant for colds, coughs and respiratory complaints in general. Records of its folk use for this last purpose are very widely spread but especially frequent from the‘Celtic’west." [MPFT]

"Activities (Ground Ivy) — Alexeteric (f; CRC); Alterative (f; CRC); Analgesic (f; CRC); Antidote, lead (f; CRC); Antiedemic (1; CAN); Antiinflammatory (1; PHR; PH2; PNC); Antipyretic (f; CRC); Antiscorbutic (f; CRC); Antiulcer (1; CAN); Astringent (f; CAN; CRC); Cardiotonic (f; CRC); Collyrium (f; CRC); Depurative (f; CRC; FAD); Diaphoretic (f; CRC); Diuretic (f; CAN; CRC; PH2); Expectorant (f; CAN; MAD); Poison (f; CRC); Stimulant (f; CRC); Stomachic (f; CAN); Tonic (f; CRC; PNC); Vermifuge (f; MAD); Vulnerary (f; CAN)." [HMH Duke]



Ground-IvyGlechoma hederacea [Turner, Kuhnlein]

Part:LeavesPer 100 g fresh weight
Water (g)83 Vitamin C (mg) 55
Protein (g)6.1 Vitamin A (RE) 73



John M. Miller & Dieter H. Wilken

"Perennial herb, glabrous to sparsely hairy, flowers only bisexual or only pistillate. Stem: prostrate to decumbent, occasionally erect, generally rooting at lower nodes. Leaf: petioled; blade round to reniform, crenate to toothed. Inflorescence: flowers 2–5 in leaf axils; bracts minute or 0. Flower: calyx 5-lobed, tube 15-veined, lobes unequal, upper >> lower; corolla 2-lipped, upper lip 2-lobed, ± flat, lower lip 3-lobed, central lobe > lateral lobes; stamens 4, fertile, upper pair >> lower; style lobes +- equal."

10 species: temperate Eurasia. (Greek: ancient name) [Wagstaff et al. 1998 Plant Syst Evol 209:265–274]

Unabridged references: [Cronquist & Reveal 1984 Intermountain Flora 4:317–318] [Jepson]

Local Species;


  1. [E-flora] Accessed March 26, 2015
  2. [Jepson]2013. Glechoma, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on Feb 19 2015
  3. [PFAF], Accessed March 26, 2015

Page last modified on Wednesday, July 24, 2019 9:35 PM