By JanetMayes

Project 365 day 120: Ground Ivy

I thought this little pretty but invasive little purple flowered plant, which is rapidly overrunning our grassy areas and fruit bed, was self-heal, but when I brought a bit in to check with my trusty Keble Martin before posting, I found the leaves were the wrong shape, too scalloped. It seems to be ground ivy, labelled Glechoma Hederacea in the illustration, a member of the mint family which, according to plantlife.org.uk, the Saxons used to clarify and flavour ale. It can also be used as a substitute for rennet in cheesemaking, is rich in vitamin C, can be made into a herbal tea, and has been used to treat coughs.  

W. Keble Martin's Concise British Flora in Colour is probably my favourite reference book, and the first place I look when identifying wild flowers. It was first published in 1965, when the author, a botanist and Anglican priest, was 88. It was his life's work: he sought out, drew and painted 1486 species. I have a nostalgic love for it because my father bought it in the sixties, and throughout my childhood and teens it frequently came out after family walks to check anything less usual we had seen. I also love the watercolour paintings, which are delicately coloured, beautifully detailed and a very clear guide to identification. 

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