Stems. - Creeping and trailing. Leaves. - Small and kidney - shaped. Flowers. - Bluish-purple, loosely clustered in the axils of the leaves. Calyx. - Five-toothed. Corolla. - Two-lipped, the upper lip erect and two-cleft, the lower spreading and three-cleft. Stamens. - Four. Pistil. - One, two-lobed at the apex.
As the pleasant aroma of its leaves suggest, this little plant is closely allied to the catnip. Its common title of Gill-over-the ground, appeals to one who is sufficiently without interest in pasture-land (for it is obnoxious to cattle) to appreciate the pleasant fashion in which this little immigrant from Europe has made itself at home here, brightening the earth with such a generous profusion of blossoms every May. But it is somewhat of a disappointment to learn that this name is derived from the French guiller, and refers to its former use in the fermentation of beer. Oddly enough the name of alehoof, which the plant has borne in England and which naturally has been supposed to refer to this same custom, is said by a competent authority (Professor Earle, of Oxford) to have no connection with it, but to signify another sort of hofe, hofe being the early English name for the violet, which resembles these flowers in color.
The plant was highly prized formerly as a domestic medicine. Gerarde claims that "boiled in mutton-broth it helpeth weake and akeing backs."