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Ground Elder (Aegopodium podagraria)

Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Ground Elder
Aegopodium podagraria

This species makes a good ground-cover for semi-wild situations[200]. Make sure that it has plenty of room since it can be very invasive and is considered to be a weed in many gardens[208].

  • Medicinal Use

    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[9, 13, 53, 54, 61]. An infusion is used in the treatment of rheumatism, arthritis and disorders of the bladder and intestines[9]. Externally, it is used as a poultice on burns, stings, wounds, painful joints etc[9, 268]. 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[9, 238].

    A homeopathic remedy is made from the flowering plant[9]. It is used in the treatment of arthritis and rheumatism[9].

  • Edible Use

    Leaves – raw or cooked[2, 4, 5, 12, 54, 100]. An unusual tangy flavour[183], the majority of people we give it to do not like it[K] although some reports say that it makes a delicious vegetable[244]. The leaves are best harvested before the plant comes into flower, they can be used in salads, soups, or cooked as a vegetable[9].

  • Cautionary Notes

    None known

Cultivation & Habitat

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.
Prefers damp shady conditions[12, 13, 200] but succeeds in most soils[200]. Prefers a well-drained soil, succeeding in sun or shade[238]. Plants are hardy to at least -15¡c[200]. This species was cultivated in the Middle Ages as a medicinal and food plant[5, 17, 177, 268]. A very invasive plant, spreading freely at the roots[4, 53, 208], though it seldom sets seed in Britain[208]. Once established it can be very difficult to eradicate because any small piece of root left in the ground can regrow[K]. 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[238]. There is a variegated form of this species that is less invasive and is sometimes grown in the ornamental garden[208]. Plants seem to be immune to the predations of rabbits[233].
Most of Europe, including Britain, to western Asia and Siberia.

Become ungovernable, break the chains of the matrix; grow and forage your own food and medicine.

*None of the information on this website qualifies as professional medical advice. Take only what resonates with your heart and use your own personal responsibility for what’s best for you. For more information [brackets] [000], see bibliography.