Not sure what the huckle-bone is? I wasn’t either and had to looked it up. The huckle-bone is an archaic term for hip.
The common garden weed Creeping Charlie (also known as Ground Ivy) has many not widely know medicinal and edible uses. Though it can take a little effort to embrace this easy to find and much hated garden ‘weed’, once you learn about Creeping Charlie’s uses and medicinal benefits, you may decide to stop fighting this useful plant and start eating it!
If you stumbled here because you were searching for ways to kill Creeping Charlie, you might want to reconsider. This tenacious plant is an intriguing edible and has long been used as a medicinal and culinary herb.
Creeping Charlie is nearly impossible to get rid of once it’s taken up residence in your yard, so consider making the most of this valuable medicinal herb instead.
A grass lawn isn’t necessarily the best use of precious yard space anyhow.
Creeping Charlie’s characteristic scent when you’ve walked on it or attempted to rip it out. A member of the mint family, Creeping Charlie goes by many names, including ground ivy, Glechoma hederacea, ale-hoof, gill-over-the-ground, field balm, and cat’s foot, plus all sorts of expletives throw about by lawn-lovers who can’t get rid of it. How to identify Creeping Charlie.
Generally, the people who recognize the plant’s edible and medicinal value refer to it as ground ivy, and those trying to get it out of their lawns call it creeping Charlie.
Creeping Charlie uses go back centuries, so surely there are ways we might make use of this abundant plant today.
It’s hard to believe, but Creeping Charlie was brought to North America on purpose by European settlers, who used it medicinally for a range of ailments. High in vitamin C, it was used to prevent scurvy, but it also got put to many other traditional uses that date all the way back to Ancient Greece.
Early twentieth-century herbalist Maud Grieve writes, “From early days, Ground Ivy has been endowed with singular curative virtues, and is one of the most popular remedies for coughs and nervous headaches.” She describes a tea made from creeping Charlie as “An excellent cooling beverage,” and recommends it for stimulating digestion and addressing “kidney complaints.”
Grieve also suggests that “A snuff made from the dried leaves of Ground Ivy will render marked relief against a dull, congestive headache of the passive kind,” while “The expressed juice may also be advantageously used for bruises and ‘black eyes.'”
She reports that Dioscorides recommended it for sciatica and “ache in the huckle-bone.” (Not sure what that is? I wasn’t either and looked it up. It’s an archaic term for hip.
Other creeping Charlie uses include treating tinnitus, sciatica, bruises, indigestion, tuberculosis, bronchitis, inflammation of the eyes, and lead poisoning, among many other conditions. I’ve also read the juice is helpful for alleviating the pain of nettle stings and can be added to bathwater as a skin soother and pain reliever.
Herbalists classify ground ivy as an antiviral, expectorant, diuretic, diaphoretic, anti-inflammatory, anodyne, digestive, anticatarrhal, antidepressant, anti-spasmodic, antiulcerogenic, tonic, astringent, carminative, decongestant, nervine, and vulnerary.
Native Americans used ground ivy to treat colds, hives, and measles.
Creeping Charlie prefers shady, moist soils, but grows just fine in sun and drier soils as well. Because it will grow where other things don’t, if it’s invaded your yard you might consider allowing it to serve as a multipurpose groundcover where other plants struggle. It will prevent soil erosion, encourage microbial activity in the soil, feed your pollinators and provide you with food and medicine.
How to describe creeping Charlie’s unique flavor? A member of the mint family, some find the taste somewhat resembles mint with some bitterness or astringency. Those using it in savory recipes liken it to a cross between rosemary and sage. I find the flavor of the fresh plant vaguely reminiscent of licorice.
Plants can taste different in different climates and under different growing conditions, so after you’ve positively identified it, you should taste your local crop of creeping Charlie both fresh and dried to determine how its flavor will work in your next meal or cup of tea.
Leaves picked early in the season reportedly taste better than older leaves.
Some say ground ivy can be eaten like spinach in soups and casseroles, just proceed with caution. I think unlike the bland and also early Viginia Waterleaf, Creeping Charlie might be truly revolting in a frittata, but I haven’t dared to try. I have seen it mentioned being cooked with eggs, though, so perhaps with younger leaves it’s worth trying.
If you’re just wanting to use it medicinally, a tincture might be a good bet if you’re averse to creeping Charlie’s strong flavor. A simple way to extract the medicinal compounds of herbs by steeping them in alcohol.
For culinary purposes, try using the youngest leaves or the tiny flowers. You can also dry creeping Charlie leaves for use in herbal tea.
The easiest way to use ground ivy is in tea using either fresh or dried leaves. Cover your tea while it steeps to retain the volatile oils.
It’s also a useful insect repellent, so next time bugs bother you, if you have nothing else at the ready, try crushing some creeping Charlie and rubbing it on your skIn.
As with any herb, you always want to make sure you don’t have an adverse reaction before consuming in quantity.
CAUTIONS WITH CREEPING CHARLIE
–> Always start with a very small amount of any new herb to make sure you don’t have a negative reaction to it. Some people may be allergic to creeping Charlie, reacting on their skin to the touch or in their mouths and throats if taken internally. Seek medical help if you have a reaction after consuming.
If you have underlying health conditions or take medications, you should always consult a physician before trying a new herb. Some herbs are contraindicated for or affect the action of certain medications.
Creeping Charlie, like some other members of the mint family, contains a compound called pulegone, which is considered harmful if consumed in large amounts.
Like many other herbs, there is not safety data for Creeping Charlie’s use during pregnancy, and some sources recommend avoiding it in any amounts while pregnant.
Large amounts of many common herbs can cause problems, so don’t go overboard with Creeping Charlie.
And there you have, Creeping Charlie isn’t necessarily the rodent of a weed once thought.