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Aegopodium podagraria (L)                         Ground Elder


Aegopodium : from Greek aix: goat. & _______: podin : little foot.

podagaria : from Greek for gout, (cure for gout in Middle Ages.)
Elder : From resemblance to Sambucus nigra.

PREVIOUS NAMES : Ammi majus.

OTHER NAMES : goutweed, (Middle Ages). Herb Gerard, (After St. Gerard who cured gout
with it. Bishop’s weed, (Dor, Som, N’thum, Scot, N Ire). Dog elder, (Ches). Dwarf elder,
(Hants,  I o W). Goat’s foot, pot-ash, (Dev). White ash, (Som). Ground elder, (Lincs, Hants,
I o W, War, Worcs). Farmer’s plauge, garden plauge, (N Ire). Ground ash, (Corn, Som, War,
Ches, Lincs). Jack jumpabout, (Oxf, Herts, N’thants, War, Worcs). Jump about. (Oxf, War).
Kesh, wild esh, (Cumbi. Wild elder, (Lincs, Bucks). Bishopswort, goatweed, asgweed,
achweed, english masterwort, wild masterwort, pigweed, eltroot, bishop’s elder, weyl ash,
white ash, aethiopian, cummin seed, cummin royal, herb william. bull-wort.

BSBI Picture Link to Aegopodium podagraria


TYPE : stout erect perennial. Hs. AROMA : roots scented. TASTE : Pungent flavour.
ROOTS : rhizomes creeping, white when young. Almost impossible
  to eradicate.
STEMS : hollow, grooved. HEIGHT: 40-100cm
UMBELS : compound, terminal, hemispherical 2-6cm diam. Rays 10-21, 
1-4cm, smooth. Peduncle > than rays. Hermaphrodite.
LEAVES : bright green 10-20cm, deltate, segments 4-8 x 4cm. ovate, scabrid on the veins, sessile
or oblique at base, irregularily serrate, teeth cartilaginous. Petioles much larger than blade, bluntly
triqutrous. Lower leaves long-petiolate. Cotyldons tapering at the base, no petiole.
FLOWERS : white, outer petals larger than inner, styles form
stylopodium. Fl. 5-7. 2n=22, 44.
FRUIT : 3-4mm, ovoid, laterally compressed. Commisure broad.  Mericarps with slender ridges.
Vittae absent when fruit mature. Carpophore present. Pedicels 3-8mm, glabrous, styles short
slender. reflexed, erect in fir, elongating & appressed to the mature fruit. Stigma capitate. 2n=22, 44.

HABITAT : woods, roadsides, waste places, in shade, with
Rosebay Willow Herb. Damp, calcerous soil.

DISTRIBUTION : intro. in medieval period. Cultivated as a pot herb, naturalised in some woods.
Vigorous and invasive. Throughout British Is. Europe except S.Temperate Asia. Low altitudes.
BSBI Distribution Map for Aegopodium podagraria (UK)

VARIETY : 'Variegatum.'


Essential oils, caffeic acid, essential oils.
EFFECT : mild sedative, diuretic, anti-inflammatory.
PARTS :flowering herb, dried, fresh. Roots.
APPLICATION : homeopathy : Arthritis & rheumatism. Intestine & bladder disorders rheumatism,
arthritis, gout, sciatica infusion 1-2 tspn per cup water, stand 5 mm. 3-4 times a day.
Externally for haemorrhoids, gout, stings, burns.


Gerard : “roots stamped & laid upon members troubled with gout, taketh away swellings.”

Sciatica: Roots, leaves boiled apply to hip. Insect stings, burns, wounds, piles: bruised leaves.
Also diurectic, sedative, anti-inflammatory, gout.


Introduced by Romans as pot herb. Once a delicacy. Young leaves, shoots
before flowering for salads, soups, veg.


Well drained soil in sun or shade. Division of rhizomes spring/autumn. Invasive, grow in pots.


Anglo Saxon Herbal : Saving swine from sudden death : “Take the worts Lupin, BISPHOPSWORT,
and others, drive the pigs into the fold, hang the worts upon all four walls, & upon the door.”

EXTERNAL LINKS FOR Aegopodium podagraria

These links to trusted websites and institutions may provide in depth or additional information regards cultivation, chemistry, edibility, images etc. for the species. Links last updated Aug 2012.

Wikipedia (EU)    Plants For a Future (UK)     Nature Gate (FIN)
Bio Info (UK)     National Center for Biotechnology Info (USA)
APHOTOFLORA (UK)     A Modern Herbal. M. Grieve (UK)
    Sacred Earth (GER)    Down Garden Services (UK)

'Online Guide To Umbelliferae Of The British Isles' Compiled By J.M.Burton 2002