Ground Ivy Glechoma hederacea
This common plant brightens up woodland glades and grasslands with its many mauve flowers.
It is probably most well known for its use as an alternative to hops in the brewing of ales.
Up until the 1500s it was used in brewing to clear the fermenting liquid and add a sharp flavour. This beverage was known as gill-ale and unlike most ales was reputed to clear the head effectively often within 24 hours. Jonathon Swift (1767) is quoted as remarking on this drink.
Like many of our common plants ground ivy is overlooked and yet has a long impressive history of use.
Traditionally ground ivy is infused with nettle to make what is known as ‘gill tea’. Every spring children from Warwickshire drank this bitter tea for nine days for good health.
This tea not only can help soothe the stomach including griping pains, coughs and chest disorders it also will help clear mucous membranes and as an inhalant help colds, coughs and respiratory complaints. The dried leaves can be used as a snuff and the herb can clear up skin complaints, bind wounds and draw out splinters.
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Poetry of flowers
Join me to explore the flora of the British Isles on this blog. My intention is to attempt to capture the unique quality and beauty of each species of flower, tree or shrub. For every species featured I will be growing many more wildflowers to celebrate the joy of their existence, their intrinsic conservation value and bewildering array of uses. For nearly 30 years I have noted, studied and explored wildflowers in the field much to the patience of the walker beside me. To share this passion is a heartfelt plea to respect, preserve and care for all British Wildflowers no matter how common they seem.