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Bishop's weed

The variegated form of Bishop's weed has cream colored leaf margins.

Bishop's weed was sold as a fast growing ground cover for many years (and is still available in some areas), but it is a plant of concern and should only be used after careful consideration of the planting site.  It is an aggressive grower and often considered a weed.  In some Eastern states it is considered a noxious weed and is banned or prohibited.

This plant has some cultivated varieties. Go to list of cultivars.


Botanical name:

Aegopodium podagraria

All common names:

Bishop's weed, goutweed, Bishop's goutweed, ashweed, ground elder, ground ash

Family (English):


Family (Botanic):


Tree or Plant Type:

  • Ground cover,
  • Perennial

Native Locale:

  • Non-native

Landscape Uses:

  • Foundation,
  • Massing,
  • Patio/sidewalk

Size Range:

  • Small plant (6-12 inches)

Light Exposure:

  • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily),
  • Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily),
  • Full shade (4 hrs or less of light daily)

Hardiness Zones:

  • Zone 4,
  • Zone 5 (Chicago),
  • Zone 6,
  • Zone 7,
  • Zone 8,
  • Zone 9

Soil Preference:

  • Acid soil,
  • Alkaline soil,
  • Moist, well-drained soil


  • Dry sites,
  • Occasional drought,
  • Wet sites,
  • Occasional flooding,
  • Alkaline soil,
  • Clay soil

Seasons of Interest:

  • late spring,
  • early summer,
  • midsummer,
  • late summer,
  • early fall,
  • mid fall

Flower Color & Fragrance:

  • White

Shape or Form:

  • Creeping,
  • Mounded

Growth Rate:

  • Fast

More Information:

Size and Method of spreading

Bishop's weed grows up to one foot high and is a colonizing ground cover.  Colonizing ground covers produce underground stems that spread out horizontally and shallowly, produce roots and then send up new shoots.  These plants are strong growers and may have the potential to grow aggressively.  Bishop's weed is definitely an aggressive grower.

Plant Care

Bishop's weed can adapt to a wide range of conditions and this partially explains its aggressive nature.  The plant may wilt or scorch in full sun under dry conditions.

Disease, pests, and problems

The biggest problem with this ground cover will be controlling it.  It not only spreads aggressively through rhizomes, but it also goes to seed readily.

Native geographic location and habitat

Native to Europe.

Leaf description

The leaves are compound, divided into three sets of three leaflets each.  Leaflets are coarsely serrate.  Leaves of the species are green, but a cultivar with more attractive variegated leaves is the form most commonly sold.

Flower description

Small white flowers are produced in compound umbels in early to mid-summer.  Flower stalks usually extend above the foliage about six inches.  They are not excessively showy and deadheading them can reduce the number of seeds formed.

Fruit description

The small, dry fruit (schizocarps) are not ornamentally important.  Removing them before they ripen will help reduce the spread of this plant.

Cultivars and their differences

Variegated Bishop's weed (Aegopodium podagraria 'Variegatum'):  This cultivar is considered less aggressive, but that does not mean this plant will stay put.  The leaves are edged in creamy white.


Location of Aegopodium podagraria (Bishop's weed) at the Arboretum

We do not seem to have this in our living collection.