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Aegopodium (goutweed) has one very bad habit

Aegopodium, a.k.a. Goutweed, grows vigorously in temperate zones. Nothing except an extremely hot dry summer ever slows it down.

Common ground elder, also called bishop’s weed or goutweed, was used long ago as a medicine for gout, and it grows vigorously in temperate zones. Nothing except an extremely hot dry summer ever slows it down.

I planted the variegated type in my white garden, and it did look handsome with compound green and white leaves and rounded umbels of delicate white flowers in the early summer that resemble Queen Anne’s lace. It is a member of the carrot family, and there are 5 perennial species native to Europe and Asia. It can grow up to 3 feet tall and to an indefinite width. Therein lies the problem, the indefinite width is a polite way of describing the plant’s rampant spread by underground rhizomes. It loves moist soil and partial shade, and even a tiny piece of root will sprout.

I use the airy white flowers as filler in summer bouquets, which for me is the plant’s one redeeming feature. While I wonder why people grow it once they find out its bad habits, I have a friend who adores it as he had huge expanses of wet shade where nothing else would grow. At garden centers I have to restrain myself, or I would snatch it from the hands of potential buyers. I wish someone had cautioned me before I planted it in my garden.

Moya Andrews

, originally from Queensland, Australia, served as Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculties at Indiana University until 2004. In the same year, Moya began hosting Focus on Flowers for WFIU. In addition, Moya does interviews for Profiles, is a member of the Bloomington Hospital Board, and authored Perennials Short and Tall from Indiana University Press.

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