Ground Elder |Aegopodium podagraria

Ground Elder has a long history of edible and medicinal use; indeed, it was cultivated as a food crop and medicinal herb in the Middle Ages. It was used mainly as a food that could counteract gout, one of the effects of the rich foods eaten by monks and bishops at this time.

The leaves can be eaten raw or cooked and have an unusual tangy flavour which is an acquired taste, although some people like it. Ground Elder is a vigorous and invasive perennial, growing about 60cm tall and spreading rapidly by its roots. It is difficult to eradicate because any small piece of root left in the ground will quickly regrow. Whilst it is occasionally grown as a ground cover in the wilder parts of the garden (shrubs and strong growing bulbs such as some lilies grow very well through it), it is too vigorous for most other herbaceous species. However, there is a variegated form of this species that is less invasive and sometimes grown in the ornamental garden.

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