Plant Profiler

Ground ivy (Glechoma hederacea)

Ground ivy (Glechoma hederacea) Image
Synonyms / Common Names / Related Terms
Alehoof, apigenin, beta-sitosterol, catsfoot, cat's-foot, cat's-paw, chi hsueh ts'ao, choline, creeping Charlie, creeping Jenney, edera terrestre (Italian), field balm, flavonoids, free amino acids, gillrun, gill-go-by-the-hedge, gill-go-over-the-ground, gill-over-the-ground, Glechoma hederacea, Glechoma hederacea var. hederacea, Glechoma hederacea var. micrantha, Glechoma hederacea var. parviflora, Glechoma hederaceum, glechomafuran, glechomine, gleheda, ground ivy tea, groundivy, Gundermann (German), haymaids, hedgemaids, hiedra terrestre (Spanish), hondsdraf, hu po ho, hydroxy-polyenoic fatty acids, kaki-doosi, kakidosi, Labiatae (family), Lamiaceae (family), lectin, lien ch'ien, lierre terrestre (French), lizzy-run-up-the-hedge, luteolin, Lysimachia nummularia, Nepeta glechoma, oleanolic acid, phenolic acids, polyphenols, pseudotannins, pulegone, quercetin, resin, robin-run-in-the-hedge, robin-runs-away, saponin, sesquiterpenes, ti ch'ien ts'ao, triterpenoids, ts'ao, tun-hoof, turnhoof, turnhoofd, triterpenoids, volatile oil, yer sarmasigi.

Note: Glechoma hederacea (ground ivy) should not be confused with Hedera helix (English ivy), although the species have similar common names.

Mechanism of Action


  • Constituents: Ground ivy has a high phenol content2 and contains triterpenoids, such as ursolic acid and oleanic acid3,4. The leaves contain polyunsaturated fatty acids such as octadecatrienoic acids (i.e. 9-hydroxy-10-trans,12-cis-octadecadienoic acid), and small amounts are present in the stalk and roots.5,6 The leaves also contain gleheda, a powerful insecticidal lectin.7,8,9 Fresh ground ivy contains significantly less fatty acid when compared to the air-dried herb.5 Flavenoids have also been identified in the extract.10,11 Ground ivy has also been found to contain 1,8-cineole, alpha-pinene, apigenin, beta-sitosterol, borneol, caffeic acid, ferulic acid, hyperoside, iodine, luteolin, menthol, oleanolic acid, rosmarinic acid, and rutin.
  • Antibacterial effects: Extracts of ground ivy have been studied for antibacterial and antioxidant activity.11
  • Anticancer effects: Ursolic acid and oleanolic acid isolated from Glechoma hederacea inhibits 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate (TPA)-induced activation of Epstein Barr virus.3 These constituents also inhibit in vivo TPA tumor promotion in mouse skin, and the activities were comparable to that of a known inhibitor of tumor promotion, retinoic acid.
  • Anti-inflammatory effects: In mice, ground ivy inhibited the release of interferon-gamma and lipopolysaccaride-stimulated macrophages, decreasing the release of nitric oxide in a dose-dependent manner.1 The pro-inflammatory cytokine, IL-12 and TNF-alpha production were also inhibited. IL-6 production was unchanged.
  • Immunological activity: Preliminary studies indicate that gleheda, from Glechoma hederacea leaves, preferentially agglutinates human erythrocytes carrying the Tn (GalNAcalpha1-Ser/Thr) antigen.7
  • Insecticidal effects: Glehada, a lectin found in ground ivy, is a potent insecticidal protein for larvae of the Colorado potato beetle (Leptinotarsa decemlineata).9 This action is possibly due to the carbohydrate-binding specificity of glehada, not to cytotoxicity.
  • Platelet-stimulating activity: In laboratory study, 9 HODE (9-hydroxy-10-trans,12-cis-octadecadienoic acid), a fatty acid extracted from ground ivy, stimulates enzyme activity in platelets by interacting with adenylate cyclase as a partial agonist at prostaglandin E1 and prostaglandin D2 receptors.6


  • In laboratory study, 9-HODE from ground ivy increased basal adenylate cyclase activity in platelet membranes about threefold and had an EC50 of 10-20μM.6 The increased adenylate cyclase activity occurred without a temporal lag and was reversible. Vmax increased without a substantial change in Km for ATP, Mg2+ or Mn2+. 9-HODE also additively or synergistically increased platelet adenylate cyclase activity in response to guanosine 5'-[beta,gamma-imido]triphosphate and forskolin, but failed to alter inhibition of adenylate cyclase activity mediated by epinephrine (alpha 2-adrenergic receptor). Studies of the interaction of 9-HODE with activation of platelet adenylate cyclase activity mediated by prostaglandin E1 (PGE1) and prostaglandin D2 (PGD2) indicated that the fatty acid produced a parallel shift in the concentration/response curve of PGE1 and PGD2 without altering maximal response, which was substantially greater than that observed with 9-HODE alone.


  1. An, H. J., Jeong, H. J., Um, J. Y., Kim, H. M., and Hong, S. H. Glechoma hederacea inhibits inflammatory mediator release in IFN-gamma and LPS-stimulated mouse peritoneal macrophages. J Ethnopharmacol 7-19-2006;106(3):418-424. 16530364
  2. Komprda, T., Stohandlova, M., Foltyn, J., Pozdisek, J., and Mika, V. Content of p-coumaric and ferulic acid in forbs with potential grazing utilization. Arch Tierernahr  1999;52(1):95-105. 10548979
  3. Tokuda, H., Ohigashi, H., Koshimizu, K., and Ito, Y. Inhibitory effects of ursolic and oleanolic acid on skin tumor promotion by 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate. Cancer Lett 1986;33(3):279-285. 3802058
  4. Zieba, J. Isolation and identification of non-heteroside triterpenoids from Glechoma hederacea L. Pol J Pharmacol Pharm 1973;25(6):587-592. 4792479
  5. Kuhn, H., Wiesner, R., Alder, L., and Schewe, T. Occurrence of free and esterified lipoxygenase products in leaves of Glechoma hederacea L. and other Labiatae. Eur J Biochem 12-8-1989;186(1-2):155-162. 2598926
  6. Henry, D. Y., Gueritte-Voegelein, F., Insel, P. A., Ferry, N., Bouguet, J., Potier, P., Sevenet, T., and Hanoune, J. Isolation and characterization of 9-hydroxy-10-trans,12-cis-octadecadienoic acid, a novel regulator of platelet adenylate cyclase from Glechoma hederacea L. Labiatae. Eur J Biochem 12-30-1987;170(1-2):389-394. 3691528
  7. Singh, T., Wu, J. H., Peumans, W. J., Rouge, P., van Damme, E. J., Alvarez, R. A., Blixt, O., and Wu, A. M. Carbohydrate specificity of an insecticidal lectin isolated from the leaves of Glechoma hederacea (ground ivy) towards mammalian glycoconjugates. Biochem J 1-1-2006;393(Pt 1):331-341. 16156719
  8. Wang, W., Peumans, W. J., Rouge, P., Rossi, C., Proost, P., Chen, J., and van Damme, E. J. Leaves of the Lamiaceae species Glechoma hederacea (ground ivy) contain a lectin that is structurally and evolutionary related to the legume lectins. Plant J  2003;33(2):293-304. 12535343
  9. Wang, W., Hause, B., Peumans, W. J., Smagghe, G., Mackie, A., Fraser, R., and van Damme, E. J. The Tn antigen-specific lectin from ground ivy is an insecticidal protein with an unusual physiology. Plant Physiol 2003;132(3):1322-1334. 12857814
  10. Zieba, J. Isolation and identification of flavonoids from Glechoma hederacea L. Pol J Pharmacol Pharm 1973;25(6):593-597. 4792480
  11. Kumarasamy, Y., Cox, P. J., Jaspars, M., Nahar, L., and Sarker, S. D. Biological activity of Glechoma hederacea. Fitoterapia 2002;73(7-8):721-723. 12490241

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