Gill-over-the-Ground

Gill-over-the-ground_jpgThis family (Lamiaceae) commonly called the Mint Family consists of 221 genera and 5,600 species and include the culinary herbs Lavender, Rosemary, Sage, Thyme, Mint, Balm, Majoram, Savory and Basil. There is some disagreement about the meaning of the name.  Some note that in the British Isles, “Gill” or “Jill” is a shortened version of “Gillian” and was the old-fashion name for sweatheart–”Every Jack must have his Jill”.  Others believe that gill is from the French verb “guiller” meaning to ferment.  The leaves of Gill-over-the-Ground were used to flavor beer and ale before hops became the standard ingredient. Because of its use in brewing, the Anglo-Saxons called the plant alehoof, meaning “ale ivy”. Cotton Mather included Alehoff in his medical manual “The Angel of Betheda” (1724): “This is the plant with which our ancestors made their common drink, when the inhabitants of England were esteemed the longest livers in the world”. In Chinese medicine, the whole plant is used to make a decoction (medicine prepared by boiling) for internal or external use.  It was used to treat influenza, urinary tract stones, bruises, sores, and rheumatoid arthritis.  Native Americans used ground ivy infusions (medicine prepared by steeping flowers or leaves in a liquid without boiling) for measles, colds, and baby’s hives.

OtherCommonName:

Ground Ivy, Ale Gill, Alehoff, Bluebells, Cat’s-Foot, Creeping-Jenny, Run-Away-Nell, Creeping-Charlie

ScientificName:

Glechoma hederacea

Community:

Edge

PlantStatus:

Naturalized. Native of Eurasia

LifeSpan:

Perennial

PlantHeight:

Prostrate

FruitingTime:

May to July

Distribution:

Found throughout the United States ~ Statewide in NJ

FloweringTime:

April to late June

IdentifyingCharacteristics:

Creeping, ivy-like ~ Leaves opposite, round with scalloped margins, some with purple tinge ~ Whorls of axillary, blue-violet, two-lipped flowers