I’d like to dedicate this post to my blogging friend, Carol at Flower Hill Farm, for her long-suffering with this invasive plant, her nemesis, Bishop Weed, also known as Goutweed (Aegopodium podagraria).
But first, a disclaimer. I call this ongoing series “Most Hated Plants,” but some have taken issue with “hating” poor defenseless plants. Most Hated Plants is really a shorhand way of saying:
- I don’t really hate the plants.
- I do hate that nurseries continue to propagate and sell these plants
- I hate that landscapers continue to install them
- And I hate that people continue to plant them
- Invasive plants are wiping out native habitats leaving wildlife no place to go
- Invasive plants cost taxpayers $138 BILLION dollars every year
- I really would like to see homeowners do their homework prior to purchasing ANY plant
But instead of saying all of that every time I refer to the damage caused by invasive plants, I simply say MOST HATED PLANTS as my short hand.
Bishop Weed is native to Europe, northern Asia, and Siberia and was brought to this country as an ornamental plant. It was first noticed to have escaped cultivation and become invasive in Rhode Island in 1863.
Also known as Goutweed, it wreaks havoc in moist, partly shaded woodlands and disturbed areas. It forms a dense mat that prohibits other plants from establishing.
This trait is especially harmful in natural wooded areas where it outcompetes native plants. Because of this, many native woodland plants are now highly endangered.
I’ve been attempting to rid my property of this plant since 2001 when I first moved in. It feels like a losing battle because it returns with a vengeance especially after the rain. We pull, and we pull, and then we pull some more. But it always comes back.
That’s because Bishop Weed not only spreads by seed, it also spreads by underground runners. If you’re pulling but don’t get every last piece of those runners out of the ground, it will pop up again almost immediately.
My neighbor across the street is the head propagator for Morris Arboretum. Her garden is her own beautiful private botanic garden. Really, it’s stunning! But she has been battling Goutweed for the 30 years she’s lived in her house. Trust me, she REALLY hates this plant!
Risa Edlestein, my blogging buddy at Garden and the Good Life, has started a discussion on the best ways to eliminate this invasive plant from the landscape at the Ecological Landscaping Association Group on LinkedIn.
It is banned for sale in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Vermont, and is considered a noxious pest from Eastern Canad to Georgia and into the midwest, plus is invasive in the Pacific Northwest.
A much better alternative to this noxious, invasive plant is the native Golden Alexanders (Zizea aurea), in the same family as Bishop Weed, but a much gentler inhabitant of native ecosystems, and a host plant for Black Swallowtail butterfly caterpillars.
So, Carol, this one’s for you, in hopes that you will make headway in this battle!
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More From Ecosystem Gardening
I've given up...
I have spent so many nice days over the years trying to control this "evil weed" that I have decided to turn my side yard (used to be nice flower garden) back into grass. All the beautiful days that I should have been enjoying my flowers and planting new ones were spent pulling this weed. When I saw it for sale at Lowes last year I felt like screaming - instead I emailed them and complained about what an invasive plant it was. (Didn't make me feel any better but it does help to know there are others with the same nemesis)Thanks!
I made the mistake. ...
Of planting variegated bishop weed in my zone 9 northern California yard 20 years ago. I pretty quickly realized my mistake and planted a miniature comfrey to surround the bishop weed, and hand pulled the variegated plant. It took about three years to wrench back control, and even now 20 years later I still see a sprout of bishop weed. Truly evil that plant. The comfrey is a spreading mat that is easily controlled, looks great, tolerates drought and shade.
Previous homeowners were thinking "wow! I planted that and look at it grow! I don't even have to do anything!"
I've replaced the overgrown beds of bishop's weed on my new property with native plants and non-invasives. Unfortunately my neighbors don't garden and so the weed tries to come under the fence again from their yard to mine.
How I did it on my own property though, was I uprooted all the bishop's weed right before winter, let nature freeze everything for a few months, and then in spring I uprooted anything that was left. I only see it pop up next to the fence where it's trying to invade from the neighbor's yard. You have to be diligent and go through each block of earth and sift through to find the nodes underground. They don't go that deep (a foot or less) so it just takes a little time.
Of course if you have a whole infested lawn it's going to take much longer... I would have the lawn dug up and re sodded.
How to rid?
I'm pretty sure this is what is all over my garden. I've spend days digging out the roots and I'm not even half way through my garden. Do you have any tips for organic methods to get rid of it? I agree, this stuff is awful! I also have Japanese Knotweed. Not sure what the previous owners of my property were thinking, but my summer looks to be backbreaking! Thanks!