Ground Elder plant (Aegopodium podagraria) Identification

Ground Elder / Spirng / Summer / Edible

How to Identify the Ground Elder plant

Scientific Name:

Aegopodium podagraria


Family:

Apiaceae


Also known as:

Gout weed, Bishops weed, Herb Gerard


Habitat:

Woodland edges, parks, gardens


Description:

Non-native, flowering, herbaceous perennial


Identifying Features for Ground Elder:

Leaves:

Light green, toothed, ovate leaves usually in groups of five, shiny when young becoming darker with age with a matt finish.

Michel Langeveld, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Flowers:

An umbel of tiny white flowers.

Krzysztof Golik, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Stem:

A short, hollow stem with a u-shaped groove


Food:

Use the leaves as an alternative to parsley


Medicine:

The leaves were traditionally used as a poultice for gout.


Known hazards:

None known.


Harvesting:

Once the plant flowers it becomes a mild laxative and has soporific effects so it is best avoided.
Potential lookalikes: Dogs Mercury, but this has hairy leaves that don’t grow in groups of three. Very young elder can look similar but these have a definite stem which becomes the trunk.


Interesting facts:

A non-native plant bought to Britain by the Romans, it is aggressively invasive as many gardens will know.

Sometimes it absolutely carpets the floor until there is oceans of the stuff, it has many many uses so we should be picking not spraying this stuff 🙂

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