- Plant Finder
- Bishop’s weed
- Bishop’s Weed
- Worth the Risk?
- Bishop’s Weed Care Must-Knows
- Plant Bishop’s Weed With:
- Call it Goutweed, Bishop’s Weed or Snow on the Mountain, It’s a Tough Weed to Wipe Out
- Kill The Bishops Weed
- Leave Us Your Comments Below!
(Photo courtesy of NetPS Plant Finder)
(Photo courtesy of NetPS Plant Finder)
Height: 12 inches
Spread: 4 feet
Hardiness Zone: 1a
Other Names: Variegated Bishop’s Goutweed
Probably the most durable groundcover of them all; quite stunning, low-growing plant with white variegated foliage; incredibly invasive and will spread indefinitely if not restrained, best used in totally contained areas or around mature trees
Snow-on-the-Mountain’s attractive compound leaves remain green in colour with showy white variegation throughout the season. Neither the flowers nor the fruit are ornamentally significant.
Snow-on-the-Mountain is an herbaceous perennial with a ground-hugging habit of growth. Its medium texture blends into the garden, but can always be balanced by a couple of finer or coarser plants for an effective composition.
This is a high maintenance plant that will require regular care and upkeep, and can be pruned at anytime. Gardeners should be aware of the following characteristic(s) that may warrant special consideration;
Snow-on-the-Mountain is recommended for the following landscape applications;
Planting & Growing
Snow-on-the-Mountain will grow to be about 12 inches tall at maturity, with a spread of 4 feet. Its foliage tends to remain dense right to the ground, not requiring facer plants in front. It grows at a fast rate, and under ideal conditions can be expected to live for approximately 25 years.
This plant performs well in both full sun and full shade. It is an amazingly adaptable plant, tolerating both dry conditions and even some standing water. It is not particular as to soil type or pH, and is able to handle environmental salt. It is highly tolerant of urban pollution and will even thrive in inner city environments. This is a selected variety of a species not originally from North America. It can be propagated by division; however, as a cultivated variety, be aware that it may be subject to certain restrictions or prohibitions on propagation.
Aegopodium ‘Variegatum’ or Bishop’s weed is regarded as one of the fastest growing drought proof ground covers on the market today providing a quick fill in either sun or shade spot in the garden. This is a great plant for covering the ground fast with very beautiful foliage. Deer & drought proof, it will smother weeds!
Beautiful in drifts, it should be surrounded by paving on all sides where it looks pretty, refreshing and under control. The paving must be solid, or goutweed will run along the cracks. It is also very beautiful surrounded by a gravel driveway. Below-ground edging barriers may be used to prevent its spread onto the lawn. With the extreme vigor of aegopodium you will want to select an isolated site where the rootstock can be kept in check.
Pale green, carrot-scented leaves are attractively edged with ivory reaching 9″ tall. By summer, white flowers resemble Queen Anne’s lace bringing the height up to 14″ tall.
Great companion for hardy ferns, Hydrangeas, Heuchera, & Hostas, Bishop’s weed is very adaptable and grows in anything from sandy loam to heavy clay; from full sun to dense shade, and tolerates compact soil and infertility.
Special Features: Cold hardy, Deer resistant, Drought tolerant, Easy care, Fast growing, Foliage interest, Heat tolerant, Moisture tolerant, Pest resistant, Variegated
Although it has extremely vigorous growth and invasive tendencies, bishop’s weed is useful in the right setting. If you are looking for an easy-to-grow groundcover to quickly fill a confined space, consider this plant. Its attractive light green foliage edged in cream looks nice all season long in part shade to full shade. Airy panicles of white blooms emerge above the foliage in summer.
Worth the Risk?
Bishop’s weed, as you might guess by the name, is a plant gardeners love to hate (after all they named it a weed). When introduced in the eastern United States as an ornamental plant, people loved its ease of growth and vigor. It helped that the plant had attractive foliage. Because it is extremely easy to share as a simple division or clipping from the garden, it became a common pass-along plant and quickly made its way into ornamental gardens. Eventually, people realized the mistake: Once planted, it can be nearly impossible to eradicate. The vigorous growth habit, coupled with its quick regeneration and copious seed production, make this plant a beast to control. For these reasons, it is important to think long and hard before planting bishop’s weed. Even then, it should only be planted in confined areas like between a sidewalk and a house where it has solid physical boundaries.
Bishop’s Weed Care Must-Knows
As the name implies, bishop’s weed is an extremely easy plant to grow, even in harsh conditions. Ideally, it likes consistently moist, well-drained soil, although it can take some drought. During long dry spells, the foliage, especially of variegated species, tends to crisp and burn.
For the best-looking foliage, plant it in part sun. This ensures that the plants get enough light to have nice variegation but also protects them from burning on the sensitive leaves. Its vigorous nature means it grows fine in full shade or even full sun.
If your plants begin to look a little ragged, mow them back to encourage a new flush of growth. It’s also a good idea to remove any seed heads after blooming to control spreading. Other than leaf blight in the heat and drought of the summer, these plants are fairly untouched by pests and disease.
Generally speaking, gardeners end up more concerned about removing the plant. Much easier said than done: You must dig up the underground rhizomes without leaving even the smallest piece behind.
Manual removal of the plants is tedious and may need to be repeated until all of the plants are removed. They also are tough enough to survive several applications of harsh herbicides.
The best method of eradicaization is solarization: Cut back the plants and cover the bed with black plastic for a whole growing season to block out any sunlight and heat the soil to high temperatures.
Plant Bishop’s Weed With:
Seldom grown 40 years ago, they are now one of the most commonly grown garden plants. For good reason. Hostas are among the easiest plants to grow as long as you have some shade and ample rainfall. Hostas vary from tiny plants suitable for troughs or rock gardens to 4-foot clumps with heart-shape leaves almost 2 feet long that can be puckered, wavy-edged, white or green variegated, blue-gray, chartreuse, emerald-edged—the variations seem endless. Hostas in new sizes and foliage features seem to appear each year. This tough, shade-loving perennial, also known as plaintain lily, blooms with white or purplish lavender funnel-shape or flared flowers in summer. Some are intensely fragrant. Hostas are a favorite of slug and deer.
Tall and elegant, these ferns look great during the spring and summer thanks to their fronds and in fall and winter when their upright reproductive fronds stand in the snow. They are excellent in damp soils and look at home beside ponds and streams. They may colonize large areas.
A North American native, fothergilla deserves a place in every shade garden for its honey-sweet brushy blooms, fiery fall foliage, and open, airy habit. The tangled branch structure intrigues in winter landscapes. Easy to care for, fothergilla requires no pruning. The leathery leaves have lighter undersides and turn shades of red, orange, and bright yellow in fall.
Call it Goutweed, Bishop’s Weed or Snow on the Mountain, It’s a Tough Weed to Wipe Out
Q. About five or six years ago, we noticed some ground cover that was not there before. It turned out to be Bishop’s weed. We do not want Bishop’s weed in our garden. I’ve been trying to pull out as much of the root as possible, but this has gotten harder every year, and it’s already coming up all over—in between everything else, which makes it even harder to pull. It’s out of control, and we’re concerned that it will kill the plants we do want. Is there any easy-on-my back, non-chemical way to get rid of this weed that some people call ground cover?
- —Abraham in Burtonsville, MD
I’ve been fighting the noxious plant known as Bishop’s Weed for many years. I’m convinced it came with some iris and daylilies from my grandmother’s garden; apparently it was once a popular bedding plant. It is just now emerging from the ground, and I’d really like to get a jump on it this spring. I have won small battles forking the ground and then sifting through the soil to get every piece of the white roots. My aunt, who also had this problem from the same source, swears she eradicated the pesky plant through diligent weeding— preventing the leaves from feeding the roots. I don’t want to use Roundup because the plant is intermingled with a particularly wonderful border of native shrubs. It has been least successful in the vegetable garden where I attribute the cyclical turning of soil to keeping it at bay.
- —Jill in Unionville, PA
A. No—frequent tilling makes weed problems worse. It’s probably more that this incredibly invasive ground cover thrives in wet shade, and one hopes that your vegetable plots are well-drained and sunny.
Now, this plant—like many so-called invasives—did get its start as a very popular, deliberately planted ground cover. Also known as goutweed (which would lead you to believe it’s a folk medicine, but the name is actually a corruption of ‘goatweed’, as goats love to eat it) and Snow on the Mountain, it has attractive leaves and umbeliferous flowers, like those of Queen Anne’s Lace. Those flowers are great attractors of beneficial insects, and the plant itself thrives in the shade, spreads to cover bare ground at a rate of three feet a year, needs no care or feeding…
…and like virtually all ‘fast growing, no-care’ plants, quickly becomes a problem for gardeners who didn’t understand the true nature of this otherwise-excellent ground cover (and/or received it accidentally).
Now, you two are right on the money in your timing; the Federal Bureau of Land Management’s Plant Conservation Alliance notes that you have the best chance of control when the weed first wakes up in Spring. In an excellent web page on this weed with many names, they note that:
“Preventing goutweed from photosynthesizing in early spring (at the time of leaf-out) can control the plant by depleting its carbohydrate reserves. This can be accomplished by cutting all plants once they’ve fully leafed out with a mower, scythe, or weed-whacker, and then covering the area with plastic.” Attacking the plants later in the season, after they have acquired substantial food reserves, is much less effective, they warn.
This advice—which supports the theory of Jill’s victorious aunt—is much like my favorite plan for controlling the Godzilla-level invasive plant, running bamboo: Allow the plants to grow a little bit and use up some of their root energy, then cut off all the leaves before they can collect any solar energy. Covering the area with plastic afterwards isn’t a viable option when the weed is next to wanted plants, so I would instead prescribe a steady schedule of cutting—say weekly—especially early in the season. Maybe hire and train a neighborhood kid to cut down Bishops for an hour or two once a week. Over time, this technique is potent enough to eradicate the notorious running bamboo, and I suspect the Bishop will only hit the canvas faster.
Another option is digging out every last bit of rhizome, but I prefer the somewhat lazier method of death by a thousand cuts. It may take a couple of seasons to be completely done, but it’s less back-breaking work and gentler on nearby plants.
An alternative method would be to cut the young plants back a few times early in the season and then spray or paint new shoots with a non-chemical plant-killer, like herbicidal soap or one of the new herbicides whose active ingredient is iron. Do this when the plants and soil are dry (because this weed likes it wet).
And thank you for saying no to Roundup, which is deadly to pest-eating amphibians like toads and frogs and may well wreak havoc with the hormonal systems of people and pets..
Q. I have been battling Bishop’s Weed for several years and have had no success. In fact, it’s more widely spread than ever! I’ve put lots of it in my compost pile. Could the pulled-up roots still be viable after months in the pile? Have I contaminated the pile?
- —Pat in Havertown, PA
A. More like you’ve been using that compost pile as a nursery for invasive plants. ‘Normal’ weeds can be safely composted as long as the pile contains lots of well-shredded dry brown material and the weeds haven’t set seed yet. But trying to compost aggressive invasive rhizomes is bound to come back and bite you on the Bishop.
The book says to destroy any life in the roots of pulled plants by laying them out on concrete in hot sun for a week. And then throw them in the trash.
Flat clusters at the tips of branching stems in the upper plant. Flower structures are about 3/8 inch across with mostly 5 white (sometimes 3 or 4), petal-like appendages, each having a green, oblong to kidney-shaped gland at the base. In the center are numerous, tiny male flowers with yellow-green stamens, surrounding a single green female flower with an arcing, divided style.
Leaves and stems:
Leaves are up to 3½ inches long and to 1½ inches wide, toothless, hairless or sparsely hairy, oblong to elliptical, pointed at the tip, rounded at the base, and stalkless. Attachment is alternate except in the flowering branches, where they may be opposite or whorled.
Stems are unbranched except in the flower clusters, light green, hairless or nearly so in the lower plant, often with long, spreading hairs in the upper plant. Stems contain a milky sap that can be very irritating to skin.
Seeds are 3.7 to 3.9 mm long, oval to egg-shaped to nearly round, with a conspicuous brown ridge down one side. Color is variable, from nearly white to gray to orange-tan. The surface texture is a fine network, with or without scattered ridges that give a bumpy texture.
Snow-on-the-mountain is primarily a Great Plains species, considered introduced east of Minnesota and west of the Rocky Mountains, where its known to escape cultivation and become weedy. It is easy to identify with the white-edged leafy bracts around the flower clusters.
Aegopodium podagraria is a member of the familiar Apiaceae or Parsley family. Flowering plants in sunny sites may reach a height of about 70 cm, but on woodland sites the plants are mostly 20-30 cm tall, with alternate, compound leaves with sheathing bases. Not all plants have the distinctive white borders shown above.
Aegopodium podagraria is widely planted in yards. It is not yet a major invasive species in Wisconsin and it may never be, but it has the potential to persist for long periods where it has been planted or discarded and to spread into adjacent woodlands. It is known to be very difficult to remove once established and it seems better to be cautious with this species. There is no question that when it is well established it is very aggressive and can crowd out a large proportion of the native species that would otherwise grow there. It does not appear to produce viable seed, so spread is primarily or entirely by vegetative means. It is very easy to recognize, so the best plan is to find new sites quickly and destroy the plants. Attempts to control it by pulling or even digging the plants have been largely unsuccessful unless all the rhizomes are removed. The recommended control is to use an herbicide on young leaves, as mature leaves are very resistant. Follow-up will probably be required.
This species is much more widely spread than the map indicates. The record of distribution of plants in Wisconsin depends on the (mostly voluntary) collection of vouchers sent to state herbaria.
Kill The Bishops Weed
The Agony of Bishop’s Weed
I’ve been doing battle for 14 years now with an invasive insidious persistent thug called Bishop’s Weed, also known as Goutweed or Snow On The Mountain (Aegopodium podagraria).
Every year I swear I’m going to get the Bishop’s Weed all pulled out in early spring, and well before the time that it flowers because Bishop’s Weed, a highly invasive plant can produce a prodigious amount of seeds, and you really don’t want this plant reproducing anywhere near your wildlife garden!
But, life has a way of intervening and one spring I’ll walk out the door and those white umbels in flower will be taunting me. “Ha Ha, it says. I’ve won again.” Such was the case last Sunday morning when I had planned on having a birding adventure at Brigantine National Wildlife Refuge.
When I saw the Bishop’s Weed flowers, I immediately dropped everything and went to work to get it removed from my front garden.
Bishop’s Weed (Aegopodium podagraria) makes a thick carpet in garden beds, and also into woodland natural areas where it has escaped from gardens, and this thick carpet wipes out all the native spring ephemerals, blocking their access to the sun, outcompeting them for resources, and keeping them from being able to grow.
I love my Trilliums and other spring ephemerals far too much to allow them to be blocked by the invasive thug that is Bishop’s Weed!
So I pulled up a trash can and got to work. It’s been kind of like monsoon season here in southeastern Pennsylvania lately, so the ground was wet enough to make trying to pull out most of the root a bit easier.
Bishop’s Weed is a sneaky plant. From its long stoloniferous roots it will send up plant stalks–right next to the flower stems of your favorite native woodland plants, making it very difficult to pull it without also pulling out your natives.
When Debra arrived home from band practice expecting to leave for our birding adventure, I was armpit deep in a big patch of Bishop’s Weed, and none to happy that I hadn’t gotten it pulled or cut back before it started to flower.
She graciously grabbed another trashcan and went to work in the Goutweed patch, helping me to try to get my nemesis plant under control.
Satisfying to see so much Bishop’s Weed in the trash!
Three full trashcans and 5 hours later, we were very proud of ourselves for a job well done–until next weekend when we’ll have to go cut it back or pull it again…..
Thursday morning–5 DAYS after filling those trashcans–I noticed that the Bishop’s Weed in the trash cans was actually blooming. Unbelievable! It’s like it just won’t ever die. Even having been pulled out of the garden, it had happily re-rooted itself and with a taunting smile was blooming IN THE TRASH CAN.
5 days after pulling Bishop’s Weed and trashing it, it is blooming again!
And one other thing. For several years now I’ve gotten what I thought was Poison Ivy, even though I had never before been susceptible to it in my many years of landscaping. But recently after working in my garden I’ve gotten a blistery rash that itches so bad I make myself bleed from scratching it in my sleep.
Guess what? I now don’t think it’s Poison Ivy (but I’m not willing to go rub some Poison Ivy leaves on my arms to prove it, LOL). In doing some research for this article, I discovered that Bishop’s Weed can be a major skin irritant and have an itchy painful rash. Just one more reason to hate on the Goutweed. I feel like I’ll need to get a hazmat suit now so I can deal with getting rid of my nemesis plant.
Invasive Bishop’s Weed
Bishop’s Weed (Aegopodium podagraria) 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 or Snow-on-the-Mountain, 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.
Native plants provide value for wildlife and contribute to ecosystem services. When invasive plants block out native plant communities, we are destroying wildlife value and contributing to less healthy ecosystems.
Bishop’s Weed (Goutweed, Snow-on-the-Mountain) is banned for sale in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Vermont, and is considered a noxious pest from Eastern Canada to Georgia and into the midwest, plus is invasive in the Pacific Northwest.
Bishop’s Weed has stoloniferous roots that spread far and wide under the soil. These greedy water seekers will suck up ALL of the water and keep nearby native plants from getting the moisture they need.
“Snow On The Mountain” sounds like such a pretty name for Aegopodium podagraria doesn’t it? But Ursula Vernon describes naming invasive plants perfectly:
If we really want to change people’s minds about invasive plants, I think we need to re-name them. Plenty of weeds could stand the re-branding treatment. Wild morning-glory sounds marvelous, exactly the sort of thing you’d put in a soap, but if we insist on calling it bindweed, we may get somewhere. Goutweed ought to be CALLED goutweed, and not dressed up as “snow-on-the-mountain.” Himalayan blackberry could probably be called “ravening monsterthorn” without anybody who is familiar with it complaining. And I’d pay good money to get the silk tree renamed to the “killer mayhembush.”
Eradicating Bishop’s Weed
The trouble is, pulling the invasive Goutweed is just a temporary measure. It’s root stolons travel far and wide underground, and unless you get every tiny speck of root out of your wildlife garden it’s going to keep coming back. I know. I’ve been pulling it for 14 years now. My neighbor across the street has been pulling it for more than 30 years now.
The best way to eradicate invasive Bishop’s Weed is to cut every stalk of it back as soon as it emerges in the spring. This will become a weekly chore, probably for several years. But the goal is to starve the roots by not allowing any energy from photosynthesis to reach the roots. So grab your garden shears in early spring and start snipping as soon as you see the Bishop’s Weed rearing it’s thuggish head. And keep snipping at least every week throughout the fall until it goes dormant.
Another method to eradicate the invasive Goutweed (only if you don’t have any native plants in this spot) is to cut it back and cover the entire area with black plastic–not at all aesthetically pleasing. You’re going to need to leave the black plastic there for at least 2 full seasons, and probably more. This will “cook” the plants and eventually kill the roots.
Whatever you do, DO NOT TILL the area where the invasive Bishop’s Weed is growing! Goutweed thrives in disturbed soil. If you till the area, you have just created prime habitat for the Aegopodium podagraria to thrive. You’ve succeeded in chopping up all of those long roots and made thousands of new plants waiting to terrorize your precious native spring ephemerals.
Don’t ever throw uprooted Bishop’s Weed into woodland areas. It will immediately re-root itself and invade your woodland–and you’ll never see your native spring ephemerals again. You can’t really compost it either, because when you spread that compost through your garden beds you’ll be greeted next spring by Goutweed in new places. It’s the plant that just refuses to die.
Vinegar does not work to eradicate the invasive Bishop’s Weed. The only thing that may kill it is something like RoundUp. But applying RoundUp or any other similar chemical is going to kill everything else it comes in contact with, including your native plants. RoundUp will also kill all of the organisms in your soil that keep your plants healthy. And for wildlife gardeners, financially supporting large chemical companies like Scotts MiracleGro (RoundUp distributor) or Monsanto (RoundUp manufacturer) is no way to support healthy ecosystems.
For me, this is never an option! So I keep pulling……..
Never Purchase Bishop’s Weed
The best way to eradicate invasive Bishop’s Weed is to NOT PLANT IT! And the big box stores like Home Depot, Lowes, and Walmart need to make more responsible decisions and stop selling it, especially with cute marketing gimmicks like “Vigorous Grower” “Fills in Problem Spots Quickly” My best advice to you is that if you see any plant marked this way at Home Depot, RUN AWAY! Most of the plants they are marketing as “Spreads Quickly” will eat your house, swallow your garden, and make your gardening so much harder in years to come as you realize that you’ve been duped and now you’re spending all of your garden time trying to get rid of some plant that was a huge mistake to add to your garden.
Native Alternatives to Invasive Bishop’s Weed
A great native alternative to the invasive Bishop’s Weed is Golden Alexanders (Zizia aurea), also a plant in the carrot family and a larval host plant for Black Swallowtail Butterflies.
Heather Holm describes Golden Alexanders like this:
Golden Alexanders are a great native addition to the landscape because they flower early in the spring. The clusters of yellow flowers are arranged in an umbel. The small flowers provide much needed nectar and pollen for emerging native bees.
Also see Golden Alexander Faunal Associations for photos and descriptions of the wide variety of native pollinators who use this plant. Since native pollinators don’t recognize Bishop’s Weed as a larval food plant, this invasive plant serves no ecological function for wildlife.
Wouldn’t you rather have something in your wildlife garden that actually supports wildlife, and does not require all your free time to keep it under control?
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Kill The Bishops Weed SKU UPC Model
Sep 14, 2019 by Beth
We’ve tried many an attempt to control goutweed in our modest yard. Our first mistake was rototilling – it spread it like mad. Pulling it out by hand was next, but the roots are like bamboo shoots and just break off. Plus our hard clay soil is tough to work with. Next covering with dark plastic – worked well for a few seasons, but then it broke through holes that formed and it cleverly spread further out to the edges and onward.
Vinegar – nope. Several years of religiously hauling boiling water in early spring – killed more of the surrounding grass/plants that compete with it. Covered with newspapers and new composted soil – it really liked that.
This past year I just wacked it down as there is much to manage. It may spread that way so I try to rake up the cuttings in case, but at least it’s quick and other plants get a shot. The idea of hauling away the top layer of soil seems most promising but it’s around some nice bushes and perennials I don’t want to toss and it might be hard to save in the process. It’s moved now into the grass lawn and so I’m at a loss for other options besides living with it and planting more competing plants.
Jun 05, 2019 by Karen Sutton
Oh, the joys of goutweed! I have been battling this monster of the garden for 24 years! I did eradicate it in quite a bit of my garden the old-fashioned way, digging up the roots, but life got in the way, I neglected to keep up with it and it came back stronger than ever. The roots are like spaghetti and are everywhere! Going to start the war again and hope for the best. Goid luck to you all!
This plant is evil!
Jun 03, 2019 by Barb Wang
You’re article is so spot on. I have been battling this stuff in suburban Chicago for years. I once had a beautiful area of ferns in a back shady area that is now gone. Eaten by this noxious weed. I have pulled it out and hacked the heck out of the my smaller areas with some success. This was informative in that I didn’t know that even hacking the heck out of it might help it multiply. I don’t know how do deal with the big back area. No way can I hand pull that area and keep up. Roundup does not work at all. It seems to like it, actually. Kills everything around it and then it alone rises from the dead. My son suggested a fire torch. That might at least be fun even if not effective. Why on earth is this sold anywhere even in ornamental form!!!!
May 22, 2019 by In good company
It is a blessing to know that I am not alone in my failing pursuit of ridding a yard I ‘inherited’ of this frustrating,relentless and Machiavellian growth.I will adopt the ‘cut-it-down’ approach after being only mildly successful with the ‘dig it out’ process. That way I won’t wear out so many pairs of gardening gloves! grrrrrrrrrrr
Edible and good for your health
May 10, 2019 by Allie D
I don’t agree with this statement,”Native plants provide value for wildlife and contribute to ecosystem services. When invasive plants block out native plant communities, we are destroying wildlife value and contributing to less healthy ecosystems.”
The plant is full of vitamins and nutrients. Instead of killing it, try to harvest it and add it to your diet.
May 05, 2019 by Adrienne Boullianne
i swear, this stuff gets energized by cold weather, horrible conditions, and (perceived) eradication. it has been the scourge of my yard for 30 yrs, and i’ve seen it multiply exponentially, but not without my persistence in trying to destroy it without chemical warfare. my new tack is just weed-whacking it once a week to weaken it, and then i will try torching it. i have lost many wonderful natives to this enemy. one positive though–last year, i saw two fat swallowtail caterpillars on it, so they mustve adapted to it somehow. has anyone else witnessed this?
We call it ground elder
Apr 29, 2019 by Mark
I’m writing from Manchester, England. We call it ground elder. It is a problem but perhaps not so dire as some of you are finding it. It’s native here and is typically found in places with a long history of habitation. It is actually edible. Nice flavour in a salad when the leaves just emerge and I also add a few to spinach. However I certainly wouldn’t advocate planting or encouraging it. I mulch the mat with carboard and organic material (leafmould, garden compost, chippings) and plant the Andean crops oca (tuberous oxalis) and mashua (tuberous nasturtium) into it – they seem to inhibit its growth! Another plant that inhibits it is tagetes minuta (Mexican marigold). I’ve tried that too and it does have that effect, but you’d need a lot of it and it will come back next year.
So my advice is learn to live with it, while also taking measures to control it.
Jan 24, 2019 by Elaine carney
I am pleased to know that I am not alone with my hate of gout weed. After trying to get rid of it from my garden using a weed eater, I suffered terrible rashes on my legs from the sap of the noxious plant. It took two years for my legs to heal. The garden became my enemy and I am so happy to have moved to a place where there is no gout weed in sight. I was told that the rash was similar to that caused by giant hog weed.
Dec 02, 2018 by Colin Purrington
I really like your suggestion that goutweed should always be called goutweed. Horrifying to hear (other comment) that you can buy this at plant sales.
Winning the war on Goutweed
Aug 19, 2018 by Gary Steinberg
We are also in a long war with Goutweed, but we have a plan that is working. 1)Never allow it to set seed.As soon as it flowers, cut it back.This eliminated its faster mode of propagation
2) Conduct once a week surgical strikes. Using a weeding knife, eradicate it and any entangled, desirable perennial or ground cover in which the Goutweed roots have penetrated. Separate the roots by tapping the root ball into a spade. The soil will fall away and you can easily see and feel the different roots. More “surgery” may be needed. That will yield liners or divisions of your keeper plants. Replant the desirable liners in the cleared space. As the % of desired plants increases, and that of the weed falls, we have turned the tide.
Keep at it. Once you see little to no Goutweed, keep up with your new skill in propagating your perennials and ground covers.
For larger spaces, you may consider a manual sod stripper, which can under-cut the entire Goutweed root system, and provides a great upper body excersize in the bargain.
Aug 10, 2018 by Anna Clements
I’ve been attacking Goutweed at the cottage for many years. This year, I ran out of steam and just pulled a few out where they were coming through the deck stairs. Broke out into a terrible blistering painful rash…..now I’m not just annoyed at how pernicious it is, but terrified as well!
Kill the Bishops Weed
Jul 13, 2018 by Janet
I actually paid a premium price for these plants at Morton Arboretum fundraiser; am now disgusted that a plant preserve would participate in spreading this obnoxious weed.
For years I tried digging it up, following the underground roots to get its progeny. Eventually it was so thick beneath the surface that I couldn’t even get my tools through.
1st attempt w/ 20% acetic acid (vinegar) spray was only moderately successful. Moving up to 30% is finally working, but it takes frequent repeated applications–spray & the above ground vegetation dries up, then a weaker crop soon appears, spray again,ultimately bare ground remains.
May 21, 2018 by Mary
After 15 years I gave up pulling and spraying and planted grass in my flower beds. Grass came up this year , haven’t mowed yet and very little sign of the weed. Grass looks weird but I’m was willing to try anything. Moved iris plants but left shrubs and under them is the only sign of the weed. I’ll try to keep you posted on this experiment.
Getting rid of Bishop’s Weed
May 17, 2018 by Pamela Bennett
Does anyone know if pouring boiling water on the area will kill the roots or the long runners under to soil. I think this would be very time consuming but I have too much to pull. I’ve been pulling for about 8 years and managed to get rid of it in certain areas for now. Boiling would take numerous runs from heating element to the plant but I don’t know what else to do if vinegar doesn’t work and Roundup is’t an option with all the wildlife around.
Will this work?
Feb 01, 2018 by Ann
I have a huge area just covered in Goutweed. I was thinking that maybe it’s possible to choke it out with some quick growing cover crops if sown before it comes up? Would that work? Also, if it doesn’t’t I was thinking of layer mulching with a thick layer of cardboard on the bottom. I really want some flowers on my yard but goutweed has taken over completely.
Jul 22, 2017 by Wayne p Isken
About Bishop’s weed, Grout weed. If I cut just the leaf and stem to about 2 inches from the ground ( not the root) do I have to pick up the leaf and stem or could the plant re-root from them.
I have such a large area of Bishop’s weed that it would be easier to take a weed wacker , hedge sheers and cut them down and leave the leafs and stems to dry up on the ground?
Thank you for providing any information about coping with this plant….Very well written for us out there
Too many roots to pull!
Jun 16, 2017 by Carole
This article affirms all i see happening in our yard. we’ve dug roots, and will never conques the beast. The “black plastic” method and the “replacing topsoil” method are possible solutions. It’s just so overwhelming! I confess I never realized what Round Up would do to the soil.
Thank you for your contribution.
Getting rid of Bishops Weed
May 12, 2017 by Joy
You have some very good ideas about getting rid of Bishops Weed, but what about removing 3-6 inches of soil where the Bishops Weed grows? I had a large area of this weed and last summer (2016) I hired a strong young guy who dumped all the top layer of soil into heavy black contractors’ bags and hauled it off. Hopefully, he took it to a landfill or dump where it would be smothered under other garbage. At any rate, this spring (2017) the weed is gone. I saw a very few of the weeds coming up in early spring and got those right away. And, of course I had to buy some bags of new topsoil for that area. But now it’s May and the Bishops Weed seems to be gone. This was a much easier way to get rid of this weed than trying to dig it or cut it back year after year.
There has been and probably always will be confusion over the names of ‘Snow on the Mountain’ vs. ‘Snow on the Prairie’. I hope this will help clear up some of the confusion about what plants were seen on the Prairie Field trip to Bear Creek.
Consider the following quotes, information, and photos from the LBJ Wildflower Center, the USDA Database, the BRIT Book on the Wildflowers of North Central Texas, pp. 606-608, and the “Wildflowers of the Texas Hill County” by Marshall Enquist.
Euphorbia marginata Pursh
Snow on the mountain, Snow-on-the-Mountain
Euphorbiaceae (Spurge Family)
USDA Symbol: EUMA8
USDA Native Status: Native to U.S.
Grown as much for its foliage as for its flowers, snow-on-the-mountain’s small but showy leaves may be light green, variegated or entirely white. They clasp erect, many-branched stems which grow 1-3 ft. tall. Tiny flowers, each with whitish, petal-like bracts, are borne in clusters atop the stems. Calcareous uplands to stream bottoms. A native of West Texas east to a line from Bell to Cooke counties (this would bisect Tarrant county, per Troy).
Note the short, wide upper leaves on the Snow-on-the-mountain plants.
Be sure to click on the photos for enlarged views.
Note that Snow-on-the-Mountain is basically a West Texas Plant.
Again, quotes from the LBJ Wildflower Center and BRIT North Central Texas Book
Euphorbia bicolor Engelm. & Gray
Snow on the prairie, Snow-on-the-prairie
Euphorbiaceae (Spurge Family)
USDA Symbol: EUBI2
USDA Native Status: Native to U.S.
This plant grows 1–4 feet tall. Its slender upper leaves, 2–4 inches long, are green, edged with a narrow band of white. The lower leaves are alternate, grow close to the stem, and lack the white edging. They are 1–1 1/4 inches long. The numerous, inconspicuous flowers grow in terminal clusters. They are white, have no petals, and are either staminate (1 stamen) or pistillate (1 pistil). Clusters group together to form larger clusters surrounded by numerous leaflike bracts which are conspicuously white-margined, 1 1/8–2 1/8 inches long and about 1/4 inch wide. When the stem is broken it exudes a white, milky sap that is irritating to the skin of some persons.
E. bicolor (Snow on the Prairie) is often confused with a similar species, E. marginata (Snow on the Mountain) which has shorter, wider bracts.
Mainly in East Texas west to the Blackland Prairie and Grand Prairie, also in Montague Co. sw to Johnson Co., where the ranges overlap and to complicate matters, intermediates may be found.
Notice the much longer, narrow upper leaves on Snow-on-the-Prairie.
Distribution in Texas for
Note that Snow-on-the-Prairie is basically an East Texas Plant.
I hope this helps.
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Troy and Martha