Guide to Growing Bishop's weed, Ground elder, and Goutweed

The common names for the Hardy perennial Aegopodium include Bishops weed, Cow Parsley, Ground elder, and Goutweed.

It typically flowers in June.

Aegopodium podagraria Photograph by Colorline.

Bishop's weed
USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / Britton, N.L., and A. Brown. 1913. Illustrated flora of the northern states and Canada. Vol. 2: 654.

Description of Aegopodium

Aegopodium are low growing rhizomatous plants that often become weeds.

Bishop's Weed has white flower that grow on stalks. They can make a useful plant for ground coverage.

Quick Aegopodium Growing and Care Guide

  • Common Names: Bishop's weed, Goutweed, Ground elder, Snow-on-the-mountain.
  • Life Cycle: Hardy perennial.
  • Height: 8 inches (20 cm). Spreads indefinitely.
  • Native: Europe, West Asia.
  • Growing Region: Zones 4 to 9.
  • Flowers: Late spring through early summer.
  • Flower Details: White. Small. Five-petals. Flat-topped clusters. Umbels similar to Dill/ Carrot plants. Compound. Insignificant.
  • Foliage: Herbaceous. Oval. Serrated. Variegated cultivars are available and should be grown as they are less aggressive. Variegated plants have light green leaves with cream margins.
  • Grow Outside: As only the variegated forms of Aegopodium should be grown, use only purchased plants. Space at about 12 inches (30 cm) in spring or autumn.
  • Requirements and care: Grows well in all light conditions including heavy shade. Only grow in controlled areas as rapidly gets out of control. Tolerant of most soil types. Deadhead to prevent self-seeding. Also spreads from rhizomes, grow in a confined area to help with soil erosion and for ground coverage where no other plants will grow, or preferably grow it in a container. Propagate: by dividing, from seed or from rhizomes. Deadhead to prevent seed-set. Spray offshoots with weed killer to help control of the plant. Remove any un-variegated shoots immediately as they will spread like wildfire. If leaves die back then mowing can revitalize them.
  • Miscellaneous: Used as a food plant similar to Spinach in Roman times. Invasive. Threat to ecological environments due to its aggressive nature. Difficult to get rid of. Can be used to help areas with heavy erosion. The most effective method of Aegopodium control and eradication is to hand pull plants, followed by complete and deep raking of the soil and removal of any rhizome/root material. The area should be watched carefully and the process repeated upon any sign of return. Removing leaves in the spring can also help to eradicate Aegopodium as starch reserves have been spent at this time-point. Any sign of new shoots should be dug up and destroyed immediately.

How to Grow Bishop's weed and other Aegopodium

It is best to buy Bishop's weed and similar Aegopodium plants from a garden Center or from plants propagated by division. They should be planted with a spacing of 20 to 30 cm, in spring or in the autumn.

Aegopodium prefers partly shady conditions, but can be grown in full sunlight as long as kept moist.

The soil type does not matter, as the plants can tolerate, dry, wet and poor soils.

Caring for Aegopodium

Aegopodium are very easy pants to look after, requiring little attention, in fact it is possible that they may take over the garden. To prevent this remove flowers from the plant before they have chance to set seed.

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