Goutweed: Plant Profile Of Perennial Aegopodium Podagraria

Aegopodium Podagraria [ee-guh-POH-dee-um] [pod-uh-GRAR-ee-uh] has shallow roots which grow fast and can cover a large area.

With enough water and sunlight, the plant creates a stunning carpet of leaves with distinct white highlights which glisten in the shade.

Flowering Aegopodium Podagraria covered with butterflies

You may hear the called by its common names:

  • Ground Elder
  • Herb Gerard
  • Bishop’s Weed
  • Goutweed

Aegopodium Goutweed Care

Size and Growth

This perennial plant can grow up to a foot high and provide excellent ground cover.

It spreads via underground stems growing horizontally to produce roots which in turn generate more shoots.

The Aegopodium Podagraria grows fast and aggressively.

Flowering and Fragrance

If it spreads unevenly, bishop’s weeds can grow up to 8” inches tall.

However, once it starts to spread, its growth is challenging to control.

A single leaflet is about 3” inches long and is shaped like a serrated oval.

The flat-topped flowers of the plant are small and white.

These grow above the foliage usually around May and June.

Light & Temperature

The plant flowers between May and June, but it can grow through August.

The seeds require a bit of cold to germinate, and those allowed to grow in moist soil around 40° degrees Fahrenheit (5° C) can germinate within a year after planting.

While it can withstand extreme conditions, bishop’s weed can burn out if it is exposed to direct sunlight for prolonged periods.

Watering and Feeding

Bishop’s weed should be watered once a week so the soil retains just enough moisture to make it grow.

To avoid overwatering, allow the top part of the soil to dry out before you water the plant.

This will also prevent the roots from rotting.

The land will dry out faster during summer compared to fall and spring, so you need to remain vigilant.

Soil & Transplanting

When you are planting bishop’s weed, make sure each plant is a foot apart in the soil with good drainage.

For fertilizer, use organic matter such as manure or compost to improve the quality of poor soil.

The location should be partially shaded since the plant grows well in filtered sunlight.

If you don’t want the plant to spread to other areas or want to contain it, you need to act fast to contain this aggressive grower.

Bishop’s weed can spread via underground rhizomes.

Digging them up can cause them to spread further since broken rhizomes can still form new plants.

To prevent this from happening, make sure there is an edge around the plant bed about an inch under the soil.

If the plant spreads to other areas despite your efforts, mow down the extra growth and allow new plants to grow before using an herbicide to eliminate them.

Grooming and Maintenance

This plant requires little to no maintenance to grow well and fast.

It can even grow during a dry spell, provided it is watered once a week.

While removing the flowers is not necessary for its health, some gardeners get rid of them because they aren’t aesthetically pleasing.

In some cases, you may see a solid green plant in the plant bed you are growing the bishop’s weed.

These should be dug up immediately, and so should the rhizomes which come with them.

These plants are way more aggressive than the variegated variety and can spread like wildfire in your yard.

It is considered an invasive in natural areas in Michigan, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Wisconsin.

How to Propagate Aegopodium Podagraria

In this case, the keyword is ‘divide and conquer.’

All you need to do to propagate Aegopodium Podagraria is to locate some rhizomes and plant them.

Since it is an aggressive grower, make sure thick edges separate each planter or bed.

Curb the growth of the stems with a root container.

Bishop’s Weed Pest and Diseases

Aegopodium Podagraria can get leaf blight, a disease quite common during the hot and humid summer months.

The foliage of the plant starts to wither during midsummer, but the plant can be brought back from the dead with a high-powered mower.

Uses For Ground Elder

The young leaves of Aegopodium Podagraria get used as herbs, and the best time to benefit from their medicinal properties is just before it flowers (from May to June).

The taste is quite pungent, and the plant is also known for its laxative effects.

Pinch out the flowers to stop the plant from flowering.

The plant is also used directly on the skin to treat conditions such as psoriasis, ingested to treat stomach problems such as indigestion, and prevents the formation of kidney stones as well.

The oil made from the plant provides relief from menstruation pain.