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Bishop's goutweed

(Aegopodium podagraria)

Photo of Bishop's goutweed
Photo credit: Nisa Karimi

Vigorous, rhizomatous perennial groundcover; variegated variety is a common ornamental plant.

Overview

Other names for this plant include:
  • Common names: Goutwort, snow-on-the-mountain (variegated cultivar), Herb-Gerard, wild or English masterwort, ax-ashe weed, aise-weed, dwarf weed, bishop’s weed, white-ash-herb, garden-plague, dog-elder, ground-elder, jackjump-about.
  • Scientific names: None.
Ecological threat:
  • Aggressively invades forests, forest edges, fields, pastures, plantings, disturbed areas.
  • Planted and naturalized statewide.
  • Outcompetes native herbaceous layer, forming dense patches.
  • Reduces tree seedling germination and inhibits establishment.
  • Recognized as an invasive across much of the United States.
  • Perennial and shade-tolerant, this plant spreads vigorously through rhizomes.
Overview map of bishop's goutweed classification in WI
Restricted (orange) counties

Classification in Wisconsin: Restricted

Species Assessment Groups (SAG) were assembled to recommend a legal classification for each species considered for NR 40. The recommendation for Bishop's goutweed was based upon this literature review [PDF] developed by the department.

Identification

Leaves & stems: Leaves are divided into three groups of three leaflets. Leaflets are ovate with broad bases or cordate (heart-shaped), with serrated margins. Most leaves are basal. Variegated varieties are common.

Flowers: Flowers are white, flat-topped umbels. Flowering stems reach up to three feet tall.

Fruits & Seeds: Long slender seeds resemble carrot seeds.

Roots: Roots are long, white, extensive branching rhizomes.

Control

Mechanical:
  • Diligently hand-pull or dig-up plants, removing as much of the rhizomes as possible. Bag and dispose of all plant debris as plant fragments readily resprout.
  • Cutting and mowing may slow the plants from invading new areas.
  • Cover the infestation with black landscape fabric/plastic in early spring, when leaves emerge. Keep covered for a minimum of one growing season.
Chemical:
  • Use a systemic herbicide, such as glyphosate.

    Photos

    View bishop's goutweed pictures in our photo gallery!