This small plant is great at filling in and covering barren ground with a lush, soft, gray-green carpet. Appearing very early in the spring Ground Ivy is frost resistant and tolerates temperature swings. Around here Ground Ivy has been up for weeks here and is already b the blooming. When it first appears the leaves of Ground Ivy are almost identical to Catnip. Bruising a leaf will let you know which plant is Ground Ivy. Catnip has a unique odor while Ground Ivy has almost none. The leaves can be boiled as a pot herb. Cooked as spinach or added to salads or sandwiches. The unique flavor adds variety to the same old sandwich or salad. It can also be used as a culinary spice and as a tea. For storage, dry the just beginning to bud leaves with stem and buds for latter use. Fresh plants work best for medicinal purposes and Ground Ivy will continue to grow until the summer when hot and dry conditions cause it to stop producing. Once fall sets in with cooler temperatures and wetter conditions Ground Ivy will return. May is the best time to dry and store Ground Ivy for use during the winter. Remember to throw out any of the prior years stored plant material. These unused dried plants can be put into the compost pile or fed to chickens, ducks, geese, goats, or rabbits when its time to dry and store new medicinal or culinary plants. If for some reason a plant doesn’t come back in the spring, some plants only produce every other year, many properly dried and stored plants will keep for up to two years. The potency and taste will degrade but they can still be used.
This plant is also known by a number of other names. Gil-over-the-Ground, Creeping Charlie, Hay Maid and Alehoof. Alehoof was probably given to this plant because of its former use in beer making. Before Hops became the preferred plant to clear sediment from beer, Ground Ivy was used. The plant contains high concentrations of iodine, rutin, and menthol.
The onions on the right are eight days old. The ones nearest to the Ground Ivy are 4 days old. The Ground Ivy is close to bearing its first flower, this one is about 10 days old. Click on the pic for a larger image.
The primary medicinal use for Ground Ivy has been for colds, flu and other respiratory complaints. It is mild and will has helped lower fevers, ease the discomfort from coughing and may help restore one’s appetite.
Added to Walnut when worming animals Ground Ivy helps to loosen the parasites hold on the intestinal lining. This allows the parasites to be expelled easier.
Topically Ground Ivy is antiseptic. A wash made with Ground Ivy is gentle and effective. Used as a poultice Ground Ivy eliminates bruising.
Tonics were once used regularly to help maintain health and jump start the body in the spring. Spring tonics were usually made with the first plants to grow. More often than not these tonics were bitter and bad tasting. By adding a few leaves of the tonic plants to a soup or stew the benefits of the plant are more easily ingested. Dandelion, Ground Ivy, Sheep’s Sorrel, Onion and Thistle are a few of the plants commonly used in Spring Tonics.