What is Creeping Jenny?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Creeping jenny is known by the alternate names moneywort, creeping charlie and twopenny grass. Its scientific name is Lysimachia nummularia. The plant is native to Europe but grown in the US and in other places as ground cover. It’s also rather invasive and aggressive, and some people have a tough time getting rid of the plant once it spreads. Despite its reputation as a nuisance plant, many gardeners choose creeping jenny because it can spread easily and makes for attractive groundcover over large areas.

Creeping jenny was once used as a whooping cough remedy.
Creeping jenny was once used as a whooping cough remedy.

The name creeping jenny is a little unusual, and many people wonder about its origin. The plant was once used as a whooping cough remedy, which was alternately called “chinne cough," and in some explanations, the name jenny is viewed as a corruption of chinne. One very unusual old wives tale regarding this plant is that snakes would use it if they got injured, though little evidence exists to support this. Some people thus called the plant serpentaria. Other herbal uses for moneywort exist, and these include placing it in on wounds to provide some pain relief and prevent infection.

There are several cultivars of creeping jenny and main differences may be color of the leaves. The aurea cultivar has golden leaves, while most other types have light to dark green leaves. Leaf size is less than an inch in diameter, and the leaves grow in pairs. In late spring or early summer, the plant produces golden flowers. Spread of creeping jenny, which can grow 1-6 inches (2.54-15.24cm) high, can be over 30 feet (9.14 m).

Moneywort enjoys moist soil and needs plenty of watering when it is first planted to establish it. It requires full to partial shade environments. In hotter climates, full sun may dry out the soil too much and make it difficult to grow the plant. Those looking to strictly control growth of the plant should simply weed out any overgrowth plants as soon as they appear. In colder climates, it’s noted that the plant tends to be less aggressive. Gardeners can also choose to pot creeping jennies, and they are especially pretty in hanging pots because parts of the plants trail downward.

One reason that creeping jenny may be favored is because in climates with fairly mild winters, it will remain an evergreen plant. Providing green or yellow groundcover foliage year round can be highly desirable. Another advantage to moneywort is the plant is not poisonous. This means it is an excellent choice for gardens that children or pets frequent.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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