Information on Ground-elder

Common Name: Ground-elder
Scientific Name: Aegopodium podagraria
Irish Name: Lus an easpaig
Family Group: Apiaceae
Distribution: View Map (Courtesy of the BSBI)
Flowering Period

Click for list of all flowering by month
Ground-elder is not easily confused with other wild plants on this web site.

The scourge of many gardeners, this perennial wildflower spreads invasively by means of its underground rhizomes and forms large patches on damp and disturbed ground, along lanes and shady woodland.  It bears umbels of creamy white flowers (2-3mm across) on erect, hollow, grooved stems which can grow to 1m high.  The umbels are without bracts and have 10-20 rays or spokes.  The little flowers have five even, notched petals and bloom from May to August.  The oval-shaped, bright green trifoliate leaves are further divided and have toothed margins.  This is not a native plant but a garden escape which is now widespread throughout the country.   It belongs to the Apiaceae family. 

I first recorded this plant in Dalkey, Co Dublin in 1973 and I photographed it in Pollardstown, Co Kildare in 2005. 

If you are satisfied you have correctly identified this plant, please submit your sighting to the National Biodiversity Data Centre

Also known as Goutweed, this plant was reputed to be a treatment for arthritis and gout and is thought to have been introduced onto our island by monks from Europe as a medicinal plant.  Nicholas Culpeper:  "Upon experiment it is found to heal the gout and sciatica. It is also used for aching joints and other cold pains."

Many gardeners feel it has now outstayed its welcome as it only takes a very tiny piece of the rhizome to regenerate the poor unwanted plant.  For serious gardeners there is now a fork which is called the 'Ground Elder Fork' which is a short tool, specifically designed to enable a close view of the ground and to help the gardener to get in and 'root' out this invader.  It is also known as Bishop's-weed.