Ground Ivy

Glechoma hederacea

Plant Description

Ground ivy, which is poisonous to horses.

Ground ivy is a small herb that grows close to the ground. The plant branches out at ground level, often covering many square feet. The leaves of this plant are positioned in pairs on the plant, and have small teeth-like shapes on the edges.

The leaves can have a purplish tint on them, depending on the season and weather conditions. Small blue flowers appear on the plant in early summer, and can last as long as 3 months.

Geographic Locations

Ground ivy, which is also known as creeping charlie, gill-over-the-ground, or haymaids, depending on the area you are in, can be found throughout the United States.

This plant prefers moist, shaded areas, but can be found in any environment.

Toxic Plant Components

The entire plant is toxic, both in fresh and dried form. In fact, the usual cause of poisoning is when the plant is baled into hay. This is mostly due to the fact that the plant is very bitter, so most horses will avoid it if possible. Large amounts of this plant must be consumed to cause reactions.

Toxicity Cause and Symptoms

Symptoms of poisoning include:

  • Excessive salivation
  • Dialated pupils
  • Panting/breathing hard
  • Excessive sweating

Cure and Treatment

Poisoning is rarely fatal, due to the horse needing to consume large amounts of the plant.


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