Ground Ivy – Another Edible Weed

Ground-Ivy by klm185

TheGardenLady has been writing about weeds in one’s gardens and lawns; but the weeds I have selected to write about are all edible. Some of these weeds are also medicinal and some are used as dyes for fabric or yarn. Many of the weeds were brought to North America by early settlers because they felt these were important plants that they wanted in their gardens.

Unfortunately these plants felt so happy here and have so few natural predators that they not only grew outside the garden but they have become invasive plants, pushing out the native plants. “An invasive plant has the ability to thrive and spread aggressively outside its natural range.” And some of our North American native plants have become invasive weeds in other countries. (When I visited Japan, I was told that goldenrod, Native to North America, has become an invasive weed in Japan.)

One plant that was brought to North America for medicinal and salad usage but mostly to flavor ale was known as ground ivy or creeping Charlie or ground over the gill, Glechoma hederacea. This plant which has attractive leaves and a pretty little purple flower and would make a lovely ground cover but it has become invasive in yards and lawns where it does not let grass grow. Ground ivy is very difficult to get rid of because it spreads in numerous ways, by seeds and by the vining stems which root at their nodes.

If you want to eradicate this weed, of course the safest method is to pull it. But Ground Ivy really takes over, so most people cannot get it all by pulling. Because this GardenLady is more concerned about toxic chemicals than about weeds- fortunately I am not a farmer who has to make a living from my garden- I let Ground Ivy live. I admit defeat. I just pull it out of the garden beds and look the other way when it is in my lawn- in spring the purple flowers look attractive. I want children and animals to be able to walk barefoot safely on my lawn and I don’t want herbicides going into my stream or ground water or killing beneficial insects or birds.

But if you are less tolerant than I, apparently borax works in killing Ground Ivy. Borax would be the safest chemical alternative For directions on how to use borax go to this site.

There are broadleaf herbicides that are supposed to work if you apply them at the proper time of the year. But this is such a tenacious weed that to be effective the chemical works best at certain temperatures and with a certain amount of moisture. Read directions carefully before applying.

Again, remember that this is in the edible weed category. On line are recipes for Ground ivy that you might want to try, such as ground ivy tempura (see here) or soups (see here).

I imagine that the real reason early settlers valued ground ivy was mostly for its taste in ale or beer before hops became the dominant flavoring. “Alehoof, Cat’s Foot, Gill over the Ground, Ground Ivy,Tunhoof (Glechoma hederacea, formerly Nepeta hederacea). Leaves and stems. Alehoof is a small creeping mint with a bitter principal. Used to flavor, clarify, and improve the keeping quality of ale. Use dry as you would use hops” (see here). I have never tried this recipe that uses ground ivy.

If you don’t want to just harvest the wild edible weeds from your garden that TheGardenLady has been writing about, they are still available as seeds for you to plant in your herb or vegetable gardens.  RICHTERS HERBS in Canada sells most of these edible herbs that we label as weeds. Here is what they say about Ground Ivy if you want to plant it in your garden. (see here)




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