E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Aegopodium podagraria L.
goutweed (bishop's weed; ground elder)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Gary Ansell  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #25187)

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Distribution of Aegopodium podagraria
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Goutweed, or bishop's weed, is an introduced rhizomatous species in the Carrot Family (Apiacea) that originates in Eurasia but is commonly planted in gardens in North America. It has escaped in several regions, and is now reported as naturalized from several eastern US states, four western states and six Canadian provinces (USDA 2011). It is considered an invasive species in urban areas. In British Columbia, it is found several sites in the southern part of the province, where it can form infestations. Infestations are noticeable in ravines near urban gardens in the Vancouver area, and there are recent reports of infestations in campsites along the Chilliwack river, and at Blackie Spit. In the garden, bishop's weed spreads prolifically by rhizomes in both sun and shade, and is difficult to eradicate. The white umbels of flowers appear in June and July in our region.

Species Information

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Perennial herb from a long-creeping rhizome, often in bundles; plants creeping, patch-forming; stems hollow, grooved, glabrous, 0.3-1.0 m tall.
Basal leaves 2 times pinnately-cut, leaf segments stalked, egg-shaped, the tips long-pointed, stem leaves deeply indented with leaflets once to several times compound, 10-20 cm long, the segments 4-8 cm long, sessile or shortly stalked, reduced upwards.
Inflorescence terminal in compound umbels; petals white or sometimes pink, usually lacking bracts.
Egg-shaped, 3-4 mm long, ribs inconspicuous.
This is potentially a very persistent weed, especially in calcareous habitats.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

Habitat / Range

Mesic to dry roadsides and waste places in the lowland zone; rare in SW BC, known only from the lower Fraser Valley; introduced from Eurasia.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

Additional Notes

This species spreads easily from root fragments and can spread into new areas as a result of the dumping of garden debris. It forms dense patches, displaces native species, and greatly reduces species diversity in the ground layer.


The climate type for this species, as reported in the: "British Columbia plant species codes and selected attributes. Version 6 Database" (Meidinger et al. 2008), is not evaluated, unknown or variable.

Synonyms and Alternate Names

Aegopodium podagraria var. variegatum L.H. Bailey

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References