Ground Elder

Aegopodium_podagraria,ground_elder

Aegopodium podagraria-Ground Elder

Family: Apiaceae or Umbelliferae

Other names: Bishop’s Gout, Jack-jump-about, Goatweed, Herb Gerard, Ashweed, Achweed, English Masterwort, Wild Masterwort, Pigweed, Eltroot, Bishop’s Elder, Weyl Ash, White Ash, Bishopsweed, Bishopswort, Ground Ash

Habitat: Most of Europe, including Britain, to western Asia and Siberia. Hedgerows and cultivated land. A common garden weed.

Ground Elder has a long history of  use as a medicinal herb and was cultivated as a food crop and medicinal herb in the Middle Ages. The plant was used mainly as a food that could counteract gout, one of the effects of the rich foods eaten by monks, bishops etc at this time. The plant is little used in modern herbalism. All parts of the plant are antirheumatic, diuretic, sedative and vulnerary. An infusion is used in the treatment of rheumatism, arthritis and disorders of the bladder and intestines. Externally, it is used as a poultice on burns, stings, wounds, painful joints etc. The plant is harvested when it is in flower in late spring to mid-summer and can be used fresh or be dried for later use. A homeopathic remedy is made from the flowering plant. It is used in the treatment of arthritis and rheumatism.

Aegopodium_podagraria,ground_elder
Ground elder By H. Zell (Own work) [GFDL (https://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Description of Ground Elder:

Aegopodium podagraria; Ground Elder is a PERENNIAL growing to 0.6 m (2ft) by 1 m (3ft 3in) at a fast rate.
It is hardy to zone 5 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from May to July. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, flies.The plant is self-fertile. 

Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in full shade (deep woodland) semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

Cultivation of Ground Elder:

Ground Elder prefers damp shady conditions but succeeds in most soils. Prefers a well-drained soil, succeeding in sun or shade. Plants are hardy to at least -15°c. This species was cultivated in the Middle Ages as a medicinal and food plant. A very invasive plant, spreading freely at the roots, though it seldom sets seed in Britain. Once established it can be very difficult to eradicate because any small piece of root left in the ground can regrow. If introducing this plant to your garden, it might be best to restrict the roots by growing the plant in a bottomless container buried in the soil. There is a variegated form of this species that is less invasive and is sometimes grown in the ornamental garden. Plants seem to be immune to the predictions of rabbits.

Propagation of Ground Elder:

Seed – sow spring in a cold frame. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in the summer. Division in spring. Very easy, divisions can be carried out at almost any time of the year and the divisions can be planted out straight into their permanent positions.

Culinary uses of Ground Elder:

Edible Parts: Leaves.
Edible Uses: 

Leaves – raw or cooked. An unusual tangy flavour, the majority of people we give it to do not like it although some reports say that it makes a delicious vegetable. I personally think it tastes like a saline celery and I find Eating Ground Elder quite pleasant. The leaves are best harvested before the plant comes into flower, they can be used in salads, soups, or cooked as a vegetable.

Aegopodium_Podagraria,ground_elderMedicinal uses of Ground Elder:

Part used: Leaf

Antirheumatic,  Diuretic,  Sedative,  Vulnerary.

Ground Elder has a long history of medicinal use and was cultivated as a food crop and medicinal herb in the Middle Ages. The plant was used mainly as a food that could counteract gout, one of the effects of the rich foods eaten by monks, bishops etc at this time. The plant is little used in modern herbalism. All parts of the plant are antirheumatic, diuretic, sedative and vulnerary. An infusion is used in the treatment of rheumatism, arthritis and disorders of the bladder and intestines. Externally, it is used as a poultice on burns, stings, wounds, painful joints etc. The plant is harvested when it is in flower in late spring to mid-summer and can be used fresh or be dried for later use. A homeopathic remedy is made from the flowering plant. It is used in the treatment of arthritis and rheumatism.

Other uses of Ground Elder:

This species makes a good ground-cover for semi-wild situations. Make sure that it has plenty of room since it can be very invasive and is considered to be a weed in many gardens.

Ground Elder Control:

If you do want to plant Ground Elder is is best to plant it in a clearly defined area. Put down slates or a plastic membrane to prevent the plants spreading. One has to remove every piece of root to eradicate so one can cover the plant over the winter with plastic and carefully lift each root out.Get Rid of Ground Elder by burning the foliage with a blow torch throughout the season again removing the roots when you can.Ground Elder Removal isn’t easy and takes sustained effort! 

Esoteric uses of Ground Elder:

None known but if you use this herb for any purpose please let us know!

The Chemistry:

Essential Oil is the active component which breaks down as:

monoterpenes (92.0%). In the leaves oil mainly monoterpenes (43.8%) and sesquiterpenes (29.8%) were identified.

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