"Aegopodium podagraria (commonly called ground elder, herb gerard, bishop's weed, goutweed, gout wort, and snow-in-the-mountain, and sometimes called English masterwort[2] and wild masterwort[2]) is a perennial plant in the carrot family (Apiaceae) that grows in shady places. The name 'ground elder' comes from the superficial similarity of its leaves and flowers to those of elder (Sambucus), which is unrelated. It is the type species of the genus Aegopodium. This species is native to Eurasia, and has been introduced around the world as an ornamental plant, where it occasionally poses an ecological threat as an invasive exotic plant.[3] "


According to the folks in my FB gardening group, this stuff is almost impossible to kill, however, "goutweed" sounded like something worth checking out. According to Wikipedia:

"Uses as food and medicine
"Triangular stem profile

"The tender leaves have been used in antiquity and throughout the Middle Ages as a spring leaf vegetable, much as spinach was used. Young leaves are preferred as a pot herb. It is best picked from when it appears (as early as February in the UK) to just before it flowers (May to June). If it is picked after this point, it takes on a pungent taste and has a laxative effect. However, it can be stopped from flowering by pinching out the flowers, ensuring the plant remains edible if used more sparingly as a pot herb.[21]

"It also had a history as a medicinal herb to treat gout and arthritis,[22] applied in hot wraps externally upon boiling both leaves and roots together. Ingested, the leaves have a diuretic effect and act as a mild sedative.[medical citation needed] Its use as a medicinal herb has largely declined during the modern era.

"The plant is said to have been introduced into Great Britain by the Romans as a food plant and into Northern Europe as a medicinal herb by monks.[citation needed] It is still found growing in patches surrounding many monastic ruins in Europe, and descriptions of its use are found among monastic writings, such as in Physica by Hildegard von Bingen."

The article cautions:

"The most effective means of control is to prevent its establishment in natural communities. It is thus recommended to plant goutweed only on sites not adjacent to wildlands and in gardens where root spread can be restricted (e.g., between a sidewalk and a house).[18]"

ClareBroommaker's picture

Good to know. This is common in shady gardens of older neighborhoods of my city and where I grew up as well. I wonder if it would still have effectiveness for gout if saved dry. Also whether for that purpose it should have been allowed to flower or not.

Serinde's picture

We have ground elder under our north hedge. I don't try to rip it out and in return, it doesn't try to spread. I've never known anyone able to eradicate it without the sort of noxious chemicals which had too much collateral damage for other desirable plants and shrubs. Nice to know it has it's uses, and next year I'll try it as a spinach substitute (if I remember, of course). (Ours is an older neighbourhood -- house built in 1890.)