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Ground Elder

Aegopodium podagraria

Please keep in mind that it is illegal to uproot a plant without the landowner's consent and care should be taken at all times not to damage wild plants. Wild plants should never be picked for pleasure and some plants are protected by law.
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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Apiaceae (Carrot)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
1 metre tall
Fields, gardens, hedgerows, meadows, parks, riverbanks, riversides, roadsides, towns, wasteland, waterside, woodland.

White, 5 petals
Ground Elder is native to the UK and produces small, umbrella-like clusters of white flowers with delicate petals. The blossoms form in flat-topped inflorescences, creating a visually appealing display in spring and early summer.
The fruit of Ground Elder consists of small, shiny, blackish-brown seeds enclosed in oval-shaped fruits called schizocarps. These seed-containing structures develop after the flowering period, adding to the plant's reproductive cycle.
Alternate, long-stalked, compound leaves. Usually 9 leaflets on the lower leaves but this can vary and just 3 leaflets on the upper leaves. The leaflets are elliptical to ovate with serrated margins. Ground Elder can form large areas which carpet the ground.
Ground Elder does not typically have a distinct or notable aroma. The plant is more recognized for its foliage and flowers than for any specific fragrance. It is primarily appreciated for its visual appeal rather than its scent.
Other Names:
Bishop's Goutweed, Bishop's Weed, English Masterwort, Garden Plague, Goat Herb, Goutweed, Goutwort, Herb Gerard, Jack-jump-about, Snow-in-the-mountain, Wild Masterwort.
Frequency (UK):

Other Information


Aegopodium podagraria, also known as goutweed, herb Gerard, or wild masterwort, is a perennial plant that belongs to the family Apiaceae. It is native to Europe, Asia, and North America. It is a herbaceous plant with a creeping rhizomatous habit, which means it can spread underground through its roots. The leaves are fern-like, triangular, and bright green. The plant produces small white flowers in umbrella-like clusters in early summer.

It is commonly found in damp, shaded areas such as woodlands and along stream banks, although it can also be found in lawns and gardens. Due to its invasive habit, it is often considered a weed and can be difficult to control once established.

The plant has been used in traditional medicine for various ailments, including gout and rheumatism, from which it gets its name "podagraria" (gout in Latin). However, its efficacy for these uses has not been proven through scientific research. The plant is toxic to humans and animals if consumed in large quantities. It can cause skin irritation, vomiting and diarrhea.


Ground elder, also known as Aegopodium podagraria, is a perennial herb that is commonly found in temperate regions across Europe and Asia. It is a member of the Apiaceae family, which includes other well-known plants such as carrots, parsley, and dill. While ground elder was once cultivated as a medicinal and culinary herb, it is now considered an invasive species in many areas due to its ability to quickly spread and outcompete native plants.


Ground elder is a hardy plant that can grow up to 3 feet in height, with leaves that are deeply lobed and serrated. The leaves are typically dark green in color and can reach up to 12 inches in length. The plant also produces small, white flowers in the summer months, which are arranged in umbels (a type of flower cluster) at the tops of its stems.


Ground elder is native to Europe and Asia, but it has been introduced to other parts of the world, including North America and Australia. It thrives in a variety of environments, including woodlands, hedgerows, gardens, and waste areas. It is particularly well-adapted to growing in shaded areas, where it can form dense colonies.


Ground elder was once prized for its medicinal and culinary properties. Its leaves have been used in traditional medicine to treat a range of ailments, including gout, rheumatism, and arthritis. The plant contains several compounds that are believed to have anti-inflammatory and diuretic properties.

In the kitchen, ground elder was used as a vegetable and as a seasoning herb. Its leaves have a slightly bitter, celery-like flavor and can be used in soups, stews, and salads. They can also be boiled and eaten as a vegetable, similar to spinach or kale.

However, due to its invasive nature, it is not recommended to cultivate ground elder for either medicinal or culinary purposes.


Controlling ground elder can be a difficult task, as the plant can quickly spread and establish large colonies. It can be controlled through a combination of mechanical and chemical methods. Mechanical methods include digging up the plants and their roots, which can be a time-consuming process. Chemical methods include using herbicides, which should be used with caution and only according to label directions.

Ground elder, also known as Aegopodium podagraria, is a hardy perennial herb that was once valued for its medicinal and culinary properties. However, it is now considered an invasive species in many parts of the world, where it can quickly outcompete native plants. Controlling ground elder can be a difficult task, but a combination of mechanical and chemical methods can be effective. If you are unsure whether ground elder is present on your property, consult with a local expert or extension service to identify the plant and develop a control plan.

More Information about Ground Elder

Ground elder, despite its invasive nature, still has some benefits in the environment. Its dense colonies can provide habitat and shelter for small animals, and its leaves can provide a source of food for insects and other invertebrates.

Additionally, ground elder has been used in recent years as a source of bioactive compounds for pharmaceutical and cosmetic applications. Several studies have shown that the plant contains compounds with anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antioxidant properties, which could have potential therapeutic uses.

However, it is important to note that ground elder should not be harvested for these purposes unless it is done under controlled conditions and with appropriate permits. Harvesting wild populations of ground elder could further spread the plant and harm local ecosystems.

One way to prevent the spread of ground elder is to prevent it from establishing in the first place. This can be done by planting native species in gardens and landscapes, which can outcompete ground elder and other invasive plants. Native plants are also better adapted to the local environment and can provide important habitat and food sources for local wildlife.

Another approach to controlling ground elder is to incorporate it into a diversified management strategy. Some farmers and gardeners have found that incorporating ground elder into their crop rotations can help to manage its spread, as it reduces the population over time and prevents the plant from becoming dominant.

In addition, some people have found creative uses for ground elder, such as using it as a natural dye or as a compost activator. By finding new uses for the plant and incorporating it into sustainable management practices, we can turn an invasive species into a valuable resource.

Overall, while ground elder may be a challenging plant to manage, it is important to take steps to prevent its spread and promote the growth of native species. By working together to develop sustainable management strategies, we can help to protect local ecosystems and promote biodiversity.

Some Facts about Ground Elder

Facts about ground elder:

  1. Ground elder is a perennial herb that is native to Europe and Asia, but has been introduced to other parts of the world.
  2. The plant can grow up to 3 feet in height and has deeply lobed, serrated leaves that are dark green in color.
  3. Ground elder was once used for medicinal and culinary purposes, but is now considered an invasive species in many areas.
  4. The plant can quickly spread and outcompete native plants, making it difficult to control.
  5. Ground elder contains compounds with anti-inflammatory and diuretic properties, which have potential medicinal uses.


Ground elder, also known as Aegopodium podagraria, is a hardy perennial herb that can be challenging to control due to its invasive nature. While it was once valued for its medicinal and culinary properties, it is now considered an unwanted plant in many areas. However, by incorporating ground elder into sustainable management strategies and promoting the growth of native plant species, we can help to protect local ecosystems and maintain biodiversity. Additionally, the plant's potential medicinal properties make it an area of interest for further research and development.


Video 1: Ground Elder filmed at Marshside in Southport, Lancashire on the 4th June 2023.

Video 2: Ground Elder filmed in numerous location throughout May and June of 2023.


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Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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