Herb Garden Plants – Ground Ivy – Invader Gets the Lead Out

Herb Garden Plants – Ground Ivy – Invader Gets the Lead Out

Glechoma hederacea (Labiatae)


Ground Ivy has small lilac/pink flowers with very tiny reddish spots; they seldom exceed 120mm in height and display themselves over rather lush variegated supporting leaves which run across the ground, taking root in gardening hacks and tips  a wider and wider area when uncontrolled. The leaves of these herb garden plants are similar in shape and appearance to a conventional ivy – hence the name ground ivy. Not only will it reward you with its own prettiness, but will also invite butterflies to flit about the garden.


A native of Northern climes, it was certainly used in Saxon times as records exist indicating its usage in clearing ales during the brewing process. Ground Ivy has, over the centuries marched across Europe and Britain yard by yard and is currently invading the United States from the East. Its virtues make it a popular addition to gardens where it is often used as an inhibitor of weeds as its dominance brooks no rivals.


The plants were fairly widely cultivated as herb garden plants for their apparent detoxification virtues. All portions possess a bitter taste but have a lovely aroma; powdered ground ivy was included in snuff mixtures to relieve headaches and clear sinuses. Before the advent of lead free paint, American house painters cultivated ground ivy as essential herb garden plants – they used them in a tea – called gill tea after the French ‘guiller'(roughly to ferment beer). This tea was thought to be an antidote to inflamed eyes and the common malady of ‘lead colic’ experienced by painters of the time. Gill tea was a specific remedy for h

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