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Aegopodium podagraria - L.
Common Name Ground Elder, Bishop's goutweed, Goutweed, Ground Elder, Bishop's Weed
Family Apiaceae or Umbelliferae
USDA hardiness 4-9
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Hedgerows and cultivated land[17]. A common garden weed[17].
Range Most of Europe, including Britain, to western Asia and Siberia.
Edibility Rating  
Other Uses  
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating  
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Full shade Semi-shade Full sun

Bloom Color: White. Main Bloom Time: Early summer. Form: Prostrate, Spreading or horizontal.

Aegopodium podagraria Ground Elder, Bishop

Aegopodium podagraria Ground Elder, Bishop
Physical Characteristics
 icon of manicon of flower
Aegopodium podagraria is a PERENNIAL growing to 0.6 m (2ft) by 1 m (3ft 3in) at a fast rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 5 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from May to July. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, flies.The plant is self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in full shade (deep woodland) semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.


Woodland Garden Dappled Shade; Shady Edge; not Deep Shade; Ground Cover; Hedgerow;
Edible Uses
Edible Parts: Leaves.
Edible Uses:

Leaves - raw or cooked[2, 4, 5, 12, 54, 100]. An unusual tangy flavour[183], the majority of people we give it to do not like it[K] although some reports say that it makes a delicious vegetable[244]. The leaves are best harvested before the plant comes into flower, they can be used in salads, soups, or cooked as a vegetable[9].
Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Antirheumatic;  Diuretic;  Sedative;  Vulnerary.

Ground Elder has a long history of medicinal use and was cultivated as a food crop and medicinal herb in the Middle Ages. The plant was used mainly as a food that could counteract gout, one of the effects of the rich foods eaten by monks, bishops etc at this time. The plant is little used in modern herbalism. All parts of the plant are antirheumatic, diuretic, sedative and vulnerary[9, 13, 53, 54, 61]. An infusion is used in the treatment of rheumatism, arthritis and disorders of the bladder and intestines[9]. Externally, it is used as a poultice on burns, stings, wounds, painful joints etc[9, 268]. The plant is harvested when it is in flower in late spring to mid-summer and can be used fresh or be dried for later use[9, 238]. A homeopathic remedy is made from the flowering plant[9]. It is used in the treatment of arthritis and rheumatism[9].
Other Uses
This species makes a good ground-cover for semi-wild situations[200]. Make sure that it has plenty of room since it can be very invasive and is considered to be a weed in many gardens[208].
Cultivation details
Landscape Uses:Border, Container, Foundation, Ground cover, Woodland garden. Prefers damp shady conditions[12, 13, 200] but succeeds in most soils[200]. Prefers a well-drained soil, succeeding in sun or shade[238]. Plants are hardy to at least -15°c[200]. This species was cultivated in the Middle Ages as a medicinal and food plant[5, 17, 177, 268]. A very invasive plant, spreading freely at the roots[4, 53, 208], though it seldom sets seed in Britain[208]. Once established it can be very difficult to eradicate because any small piece of root left in the ground can regrow[K]. If introducing this plant to your garden, it might be best to restrict the roots by growing the plant in a bottomless container buried in the soil[238]. There is a variegated form of this species that is less invasive and is sometimes grown in the ornamental garden[208]. Plants seem to be immune to the predations of rabbits[233]. Special Features: Attractive foliage, Not North American native, Invasive, Naturalizing, Wetlands plant.
Seed - sow spring in a cold frame. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in the summer. Division in spring. Very easy, divisions can be carried out at almost any time of the year and the divisions can be planted out straight into their permanent positions.
Other Names
Found In
Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

This plant can be weedy or invasive. Connecticut (goutweed) Invasive, banned. Massachusetts (Bishop's goutweed, bishop's weed, goutweed) Prohibited. Vermont (goutweed) Class B noxious weed. [1c]
Conservation Status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : This taxon has not yet been assessed.
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Expert comment
Botanical References
Links / References
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Readers comment
Elizabeth H.
Dries Fri Apr 18 05:02:58 2003
I have given ground elder with the roots attached to my rabbit on different occassions. THe rabbit is very choosy and lives free in my garden so it can eat what it wants. It ate the whole plant, starting from the roots. Seeing this I myself tried some of the roots, finding them better tasting then just the leaves. This was in early spring when the leaves were just emerging.
Elizabeth H.
Correction to my earlier comment Sun Apr 20 18:34:08 2003
What I referred to as 'roots' seem, on closer look, more like underground stems, with little side roots attached to them.
Elizabeth H.
Dr. med. veronika Rampold Mon Dec 26 2005
I eat the young leaves, "when they still are bright green, glossy, and not wholly unfolded" (Kocher / Rothmayr, Ernte ohne Saat, 1948). They have a fishy odor when cooked but it goes away while cooking. They develop a brownish color when cooked. My most pleasant "wild spinach" recipe is: take stingy nettle shoots, ground elder leaves of the kind named above and stellaria media shoots at equal parts, cook them as you would do with young spinach, spice with garlic, eat it on a good thick egg-pancake!
Elizabeth H.
Dr. Robert! Sat Feb 25 2006
Aegopodium Podagraria is very good and useful herb. It was (the only) food of our great Russian saint Seraphim of Sarov for three years.
Elizabeth H.
Margaret Thu Jul 20 2006
We eat the leaves very happily as it is all over our garden and it's a tasty way of getting revenge. When we have to dig it out of beds I have tossed the lot, roots, leaves and flowers to the hens and they seem to consume the lot, which is handy. Excellent ground cover under soft fruit, doesn't seem to reduce the berry crop at all.
Elizabeth H.
K Danielsen Tue May 29 2007
Just saute loads of leaves (stems are all right as well) in olive oil and garlic. Perhaps some tomato. Salt. Or use it in any vegetable stew. I have not tried the seeds or flowers. Yet. And, I am experimenting on preserving them (yes! preserving weeds) for the winter (drying, freezing, pickling). As someone said: A "revenge", perhaps? I see it as using a free gift from my minimal-effort garden here on the northwestern Norwegian coast (Molde).
Elizabeth H.
Nellie Tue Aug 26 2008
Thanks for all the useful information - I had no idea one could eat it. However, it has taken over my raspberry bed and I cannot seem to get rid of it, roots and all, without losing my few remaining raspberry plants. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks in advance.
Elizabeth H.
martin nicklin Tue Sep 30 2008
There is a lovely variegated variety called, not surprisingly, Aegopodium podagraria 'Variegatum' which is much more garden-worthy although spreads incredibly fast so plant it with caution. It grows in my garden in deep shade and retains its bold variegation. It is presumably also edible although I have not heard of anyone trying it!
Elizabeth H.
Hairy Caterpillar Thu Dec 4 2008
We started getting complaints after selling the variegated form. Introducing it to your garden will introduce normal ground elder eventually. So get your recipes ready!

Edible Plants

Elizabeth H.
Dominic Fri Dec 26 2008
Dr. Robert's comment on Aegopodium podagraria as the only food of the russian Saint Seraphim of Sarov is interesting. Is there a background or source reference for this. It implies that the root is edible as otherwise St seraphim must have had to do a lot of pickling for the northern winter when the leaves would have withered down.
Elizabeth H.
Dan Uhrbom Tue Jun 9 2009
Aegopodium podagraria has for me been 90 % of my food 30 days together with nettle, danderline, fruit and a lot of water. I put it in a blender or a mincer. Enough with fruit it taste good and I want more because I like it. The name of it is Green Smoothie and my body feel so good. Here in Sweden I will try this to the end of oktober. Wintertime it will be dried weeds, fruit and water. I have learned that all neccassary nutrition is in this combination, proteins, minerals, oil/fat, vitamins and enzymes.
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Subject : Aegopodium podagraria  

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