How Did the Creeping Charlie Plant Get Its Name?

Creeping Charlie got its name from the plant’s tendency to spread rapidly and create ground cover. “Charlie” is one of the many names common to this herb.

Creeping Charlie’s scientific name is Glechoma hederacea. “Glechoma” is a Greek word used to refer to a member of the mint family; hederacea is a genus of ivy, which references the plant’s creeping quality. Creeping Charlie is also known by the nicknames “runaway Robin,” “gill-over-the-ground,” “ground ivy” and “Lizzie-run-up-the-hedge.”

The plant has soft, scalloped, fuzzy leaves and tiny violet flowers in spring. The leaves are edible and may be used as salad greens. They were once used in brewing beer and as medicinal herbs. Creeping Charlie is often seen as a nuisance, however, as it has an aggressive, invasive quality.

When a gardener attempts to weed it out of a flower or vegetable bed, the stems typically break, leaving behind roots that quickly grow into new plants. Creeping Charlie hinders the growth of any other plant grown near it, so it is best used as a ground cover in places where grass is unlikely to grow. Creeping Charlie is often used in Japanese-themed or shade gardens; the plant tends to be disease-free and is drought-tolerant.