This section is from the book "Wayside And Woodland Blossoms", by Edward Step. Also available from Amazon: Wayside And Woodland Blossoms: A Guide To British Wild-Flowers.
Trailing among the grass of the copse and hedgebank the Ground Ivy is one of the earliest of flowers to appear in spring. It has not the remotest relationship to the real ivy (Hedera helix), but, like the Dead Nettle, is a labiate plant. The slender square stem creeps along, and wherever it puts forth a pair of leaves it sends down a tuft of fibrous roots also. The leaves are roundish, kidney-shaped, deeply round-toothed on the margin. The flowers are borne in the axils of leaf-like bracts. The corolla-tube is long, slender at base, afterwards dilating. Some of the purple-blue flowers are large and perfect, others small and devoid of stamens. March to June. There is a closely allied, but rare, species called the Catmint (N. catarid) which flowers from July to September. This has an erect stem, with leaves approaching more to heart-shape, the teeth sharper; both stem and leaves downy and whitish. Flowers white, marked with rose-colour. The name Nepeta is the classical Latin one, and is said to have been given because the plant was common round the town of Nepet in Tuscany.
Nepeta glechoma. - Labiateae. Ivy-leaved Toadflax.
- Scrophularineae. -
- Geraniaceae. The Ivy-leaved Toad-flax (Linaria cymbalaria) will be found forming a beautiful tapestry on ruins and old walls. It is a Continental species, and those found naturalized here are believed to be the descendants of greenhouse escapes. The stems are very long and slender; the leaves lobed like certain forms of Ivy, often purple beneath, dark green above. The calyx is five-parted, and the corolla is like that of the familiar Snapdragon of our gardens. The two lips are so formed that they close the mouth of the corolla, which is hence said to be personate or masked; the tube is spurred, in which it differs from Snapdragon. When the seed-capsule is nearly ripe it turns about on its stalk and seeks a cranny in the wall, where it can disperse its seeds. Flowers July to September. The name Linaria is derived from the Latin Linumi from the resemblance of the leaves of the common Toad-flax (see page 105) to those of the Flax (see page 96).