Common Name: Ground Elder, Bishops weed, Goutweed, Herb Gerrard, English Masterwort, Masterwort.
Scientific Name: Aegopodium Podagraria
The leaves of Ground Elder resemble the leaves of the Elder tree. When young the leaves are light green soft, glossy and translucent. The become a papery darker green, course with a dull matt finish with age. The leaves can look like they are splitting or like two leaves that are joined together. The stem is U shaped and hollow. When the flowers appear in early summer, they form small white umbels, which are made up of lots of smaller flowers. The plant can grow up to a metre in height and it is an invasive plant and best never introduce into your garden, due to its tenacious vigorous nature. The smallest piece of rhizome will quickly turn into another plant. It is a member of the carrot family (Apiaceae) and great care should be taken when foraging plants from this family. Be 100% sure of your identification.
Ground Elder can be found in woodland, grassland, hedgerows, grass verges and gardens.
The leaves have a lovely parsley taste and smell and can be used as a salad leaf and cooked as a green vegetable like spinach. The young soft leaves are best to use before the plant has flowered. When in flower it becomes a diuretic, laxative and a mild sedative, so best left alone at this stage.
Ground Alder has been used to treat many ailments in the past, some of these include; gout, arthritis, rheumatism, a diuretic and to treat digestive problems.
This is a cut and come again herb, perfect for your plate. It’s a bane of many a gardener’s life due to its difficulty to remove once established. It is thought to have been brought to the UK by the Romans and used as a pot herb.