Creeping Charlie, ground ivy or gill-over-the-ground (Glechoma hederacea)

Four-petaled white flowers and slender seed capsules of garlic mustard.

 
 

Creeping Charlie (Glechoma hederacea) was brought to the United States likely for food and medicinal reasons. It can form dense carpet-like mats that displace other ground plant cover. It can take over disturbed areas and is considered weedy in urban gardens and turf lawns.

Description

Appearance

A short, horizontally growing plant with square stems, round toothed leaves and small purple flowers. When crushed has a faint mint smell.

Leaves and Stem

Leaves are a round heart shape, arranged opposite each other along the stem and have bluntly toothed edges. Leaves are bright green and shiny.

Flowers

Flowers are light blue to bluish-purple, tubular, and directed to one side of the stem. They bloom from April to June.

Seeds

Plants reproduce primarily by vegetative means. They also can reproduce by seed. Each flower produces four seeds. Seeds are small nutlets that can be spread by animal and human transport of seeds in mud. Seeds are usually viable for less than one year but in some conditions can remain viable for multiple years.

Roots

Roots grow from each leaf node that creeps along the soil surface spreading the plant vegetatively.

Biology

This perennial plant is a member of the mint family (Lamiaceae). Plants spread out vegetatively creating colonies of creeping Charlie that form dense carpet-like mats that displace other ground plant cover. When flowering, upright stems can reach a height of four to 16 inches tall. After flowering, the tall stems droop down and continue growing horizontally along the ground.

Origin and Spread

Creeping Charlie was brought to the United States from its native Europe likely for both food and medicinal reasons. Until the widespread use of hops in the 17th century, creeping Charlie was used regularly in beer and was known commonly as "ale ivy." Since it was first documented in New England in 1672, creeping Charlie can now be found throughout all states except New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada and Hawaii.

Refer to the EDDMapS database for current distribution of creeping Charlie.

Don't be fooled by these look-alikes

  • Henbit deadnettle, Lamium amplexicaule (non-native)-This plant has similar leaves and flowers to creeping Charlie but tends to have thicker and longer stems. The flowers are also larger and are a lighter pink in color than creeping Charlie.
  • Heal-all, Prunella vulgaris (non-native)-Has linear leaves as opposed to the round, scalloped leaves of creeping Charlie
 
Regulatory Classification

This species is not regulated.

Threat to Minnesota
  • This plant is not considered a threat to healthy plant communities but can take over disturbed areas.
  • This plant is considered weedy in urban gardens and turf lawns.
What you should do

One way that invasive plant seeds and fragments can spread is in soil. Sometimes plants are planted purposefully. You can prevent the spread of invasive plants.

PlayCleanGo: Stop Invasive Species in Your Tracks

  • REMOVE plants, animals & mud from boots, gear, pets & vehicle.
  • CLEAN your gear before entering & leaving the recreation site.
  • STAY on designated roads & trails.
  • PLANT non-invasive species.
Native Substitutes
 
Control Methods

Cultural control can be done by planting shade tolerant grass, which can outcompete the shade tolerant creeping Charlie. It is also beneficial to increase light and air circulation to the ground by trimming trees and shrubs. When maintaining turf, less fertilizer and mowing to a height of three inches is recommended.

Mechanical control can be done by cutting or pulling the plant by hand or with equipment such as rakes, however all stems must be removed or the plant will recolonize the area.

Herbicide control is challenging because creeping Charlie can reestablish quickly after post-emergence treatment. The most effective chemical control are those with the ingredient triclopyr.

Reporting

This species is unregulated, but if you would like to add to the public information about this species, you can report new occurrences by submitting a report through EDDMapS Midwest.

Resources