T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network


Glechoma hederacea (Ground ivy)

Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Lamiales
Family: Lamiaceae
Genus: Glechoma
Species: G. hederacea
Binomial name: Glechoma hederacea
Synonym: Herba hederae terrestris
Common names: Ground ivy, Cat ivy, Cat's foot, Crow victuals, Field balm, Ground joy, Hayhofe, Haymaids, Hedgemaids, Hove, Lizzy-run-up-the-hedge, Robin-run-in-the-hedge, Run-away-robin, Tun hoof, Tunhofe, Turnhoof, Wild snakeroot, Lady slipper

Glechoma hederacea is native to Eurasia but has been introduced to many countries were it has escaped from cultivation. In New Zealand is a perennial weed found in the south of the North Island, the South Island and Stewart Island. 
Glechoma hederacea can be identified by its round to reniform (kidney or fan shaped), crenate (with round toothed edges) opposed leaves 2–3 cm diameter, on 3–6 cm long petioles attached to square stems which root at the nodes. It is a variable species, its size being influenced by environmental conditions, from 5 cm up to 50 cm tall.

Glechoma is sometimes confused with common mallow (Malva neglecta), which also has round, lobed leaves; but mallow leaves are attached to the stem at the back of a rounded leaf, where ground ivy has square stems and leaves which are attached in the center of the leaf, more prominent rounded lobes on their edges, attach to the stems in an opposite arrangement, and have a hairy upper surface. In addition, mallow and other creeping plants sometimes confused with ground ivy do not spread from nodes on stems. In addition, ground ivy emits a distinctive odour when damaged, being a member of the mint family.
The flowers of Glechoma are bilaterally symmetrical, funnel shaped, blue or bluish-violet to lavender, and grow in opposed clusters of 2 or 3 flowers in the leaf axils on the upper part of the stem or near the tip. It usually flowers in the spring.
Glechoma thrives in moist shaded areas, but also tolerates sun very well. It is a common plant in grasslands and wooded areas or wasteland. It also thrives in lawns and around buildings since it survives mowing. It spreads by stolons or by seed. Part of the reason for its wide spread is this rhizomatous method of reproduction. It will form dense mats which can take over areas of lawn, and thus can be considered potentially invasive or aggressive weed. (Wikipedia)

Livestock poisoning has been recorded, but is not common since the taste seems to deter animals from eating it. However, when ground ivy infiltrates hayfields and is cut and baled with edible forage, the possibility for poisoning increases, especially in horses. Signs of toxic ingestion include salivation, sweating, and difficulty breathing, but the end result is seldom fatal.