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Creeping Charlie Description 

Botanical Name: Glechoma Hederacea

Creeping Charlie also referred to as ground ivy is an aromatic herbaceous perennial creeper belonging to the mint (Lamiaceae) family. Creeping Charlie is common in moist shady areas, although it will also take some sun. The creeper is native to Europe. It has naturalized in North America where it has become a hard to kill invasive species. Gardeners don’t like this plant because it has become a notorious lawn weed that is hard to control once it has attacked a lawn. It’s is an invasive weed. The herbaceous creeper normally grows close to the ground but can reach up to 20 cm high. 

Creeping Charlie name derivation
The genus name Glechoma is a derivative of Greek word called glechon, used to describe a species of mint. Its species name hederacea is a derivative of a Latin word Hedera, which is the Latin identity for Ivy. 

Origin 
Creeping Charlie is native to Europe but was distributed to North America by European settlers. They used the herb for medicine purposes or as a cover crop. 

Habitat
Creeping Charlie thrives well in moist environments, which include shady locations, waste areas, hedgerows and woodland margins. 

Seeds
There are four seeds on each flower. They germinate within a few days of landing on moist soil.

Flowers
They begin to appear from the month of March, dependent on location. They have a purple to blue color and are small (1 cm long). Their flowers develop in clusters of 3 on the axils (between a stem and petiole). Contain five petals, which are merged into a tube or cup. Every flower produces 4 seeds. There are two types, pistillate (wholly female flowers) and perfect (both female and male structures). Flowers are usually pollinated by the smallest insects (bumblebees) as well as flower flies. 

Leaves
Creeping Charlie leaves are shiny green on the upper epithelial layer and pale on the underside. They are arranged along the stem in pairs. They have a kidney shape, scalloped margins as well as being broadly chordate. Sometimes on the underside, they might appear tinted purple. On the leaf surface, there are short hairs. Their palmate veins rise from a single point. Leaves appear on opposite sides of the square stem. They are normally about 1 inch across although it may reach up to 2 inches.

Life Cycle
Creeping Charlie flowers usually between the months of April & July. Insects help in pollinating the flowers. Every pollinated flower produces a maximum of four seeds, which get dispersed by the bending stalk. The ripe seeds are deposited to in the ground, although insects like ants might disperse the seeds to other areas. After a few days of being in contact with the moist soil, seeds germinate. 

However, seeds can stay dormant for up to one month. In fact, dormancy is thought to improve germination percentage of the seeds. 
Apart from the sexual reproduction through seeds, this perennial creeper can reproduce clonally (by stolons). This happens by the stem bending down to the ground allowing roots to develop and attach themselves. Single clones will grow several meters across.

Why it’s hard to control the weed
Notably, Creeping Charlie is known for its rapid growth once it stops flowering. On the other, the herb can germinate either sexually (seeds) or asexually (stolons). As you try to weed the herb out of your lawn, its stems break, leaving rooted parts that form new plants readily. In fact, controlling the weed through mowing is not possible since it easily withstands mowing. 

Lawn care
If you are a gardener in North America and have a lawn, in your weed control efforts, you must have realized that Creeping Charlie is a common weed. Moreover, eradicating the herbaceous perennial weed completely from your lawn is very difficult. 

However, there are some methods that can help you reduce encroachment level of this invasive species in your lawn. For instance, ensure that soil drainage is improved. Prune all trees to open canopy and improve light penetration. Fertilizer application, regular mowing, over seeding and watering appropriately are great ways of controlling Creeping Charlie. Alternatively, use of a post-emergence broad-leaf herbicide will also work. When using an herbicide read and follow instructions carefully. 

Bottom Line
It is very difficult to wipe out Creeping Charlie from your lawn. The herbaceous perennial weed is highly invasive and grows rapidly. Nevertheless, through methods like regular mowing, appropriate watering, fertilizer application, over seeding, and use of post- emergence herbicides it is possible to reduce its invasion. The fact remains that it’s not easy to fully get rid of Creeping Charlie from your lawn. see more on Creeping Charlie at Gerry's Blog

 

written by: gikundantiphas and with edits by Gerry Okimi

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