GROUND-ELDER

GOUT-WEED

Aegopodium podagraria

Carrot Family [Apiaceae]  

month8jun month8june month8jul month8july month8aug

status
statusZarchaeophyte
 
flower
flower8white
 
morph
morph8zygo
 
petals
petalsZ5
 
type
typeZclustered
 
type
typeZumbel
 
stem
stem8round
 
stem
stem8ribbed
ribbed
smell
smell8musk smell8aromatic
aromatic

26th June 2011, Leeds & Liverpool Canal, Adlington, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
A medium sized umbellifer with rounded umbels, half as tall as the ones behind it.


27th June 2009, Blackleach Country Pk, Walkden, Gtr Mcr. Photo: © RWD
Along an old mineral line, in semi-shade.


27th June 2009, Blackleach Country Pk, Walkden, Gtr Mcr. Photo: © RWD
Typical growth pattern: the undercover leaves advancing; the flower stalks behind.


22nd June 2007, Old Clough Lane, East Lancs Rd, Walkden. Photo: © RWD
Happily grows at the advancing edge of an infestation of Japanese Knotweed (larger leaves in background). Nothing, of course, can grow underneath Japanese Knotweed.


26th June 2011, Leeds & Liverpool Canal, Adlington, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
Flowers not yet fully un-furled.


27th June 2009, Blackleach Country Pk, Walkden, Gtr Mcr. Photo: © RWD
Un-opened flowers resemble PP9 battery terminals.


26th June 2011, Leeds & Liverpool Canal, Adlington, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
Petals still to un-fold properly.


27th June 2009, Blackleach Country Pk, Walkden, Gtr Mcr. Photo: © RWD
The half-domed umbel, a simple double fractal. Stems round, but ridged.


27th June 2009, Blackleach Country Pk, Walkden, Gtr Mcr. Photo: © RWD
White five-petalled flowers.


27th June 2009, Blackleach Country Pk, Walkden, Gtr Mcr. Photo: © RWD
With five long purple-tipped stamens. At the centre of each flower is a white fused double-globed 'blob'. The individual petals are heart-shaped, with both a folded kink and a notch top dead centre.


22nd June 2009, Cartmel, Cumbria. Photo: © RWD
Remarkably bi-symmetric flowers have two fused semi-transparent white spheres, from one of which emerges two white petals, whilst the other bears three white petals.


26th June 2011, Leeds & Liverpool Canal, Adlington, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
The umbel of fruits, showing the double-umbel construction.


27th June 2009, Blackleach Country Pk, Walkden, Gtr Mcr. Photo: © RWD
After the petals have dropped off, the seed casings remain.


27th June 2009, Blackleach Country Pk, Walkden, Gtr Mcr. Photo: © RWD
Below the two remaining stamens dwell the (now greenish) fused double-globes with the double-barrelled ribbed seed casings immediately below.


26th June 2011, Leeds & Liverpool Canal, Adlington, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
Each fruit is 'double-barrelled'.


27th June 2009, Blackleach Country Pk, Walkden, Gtr Mcr. Photo: © RWD
The trefoil leaves are variously in single triplets or three triplets, broad lanceolate and irregularly toothed.


27th June 2009, Blackleach Country Pk, Walkden, Gtr Mcr. Photo: © RWD
The leaves blanket out light. Note the fallen stamens on the leaves.


26th June 2011, Leeds & Liverpool Canal, Adlington, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
Each fruit is 'double-barrelled'.


Some similarities to : Many other umbellifers.

Easily confused with : Wild Angelica (Angelica sylvestris) which although has similar leaves, they are up to 3-pinnate rather than only up to 2-pinnate. The stems are often suffused purple, the flowers are yellowish-green, the sheaths under the branched stems are highly inflated and the fruits have four wings.

No relation to : Elder (Sambucus nigra) ('Elderberry' or 'Elderflower', a tree) [a plant with similar name with white flowers that look umbellifer-like] nor to Groundsel (Senecio vulgaris), a much shorter plant with yellow flowers.

An umbellifer which was introduced by the Romans, so if you have some in your garden and cannot get rid of it, you blame them.

The gardeners bane; if ever Ground-Elder gets a hold in any garden, the gardener will never get rid of it, for it is a really tenacious and aggressively invasive weed. Even replacing it with Japanese Knotweed will not rid the garden of it (nor of the knotweed!). It is said that the roots can extend downwards by up to 30 feet, which somewhat explains its persistence. Somewhat surprisingly, some gardeners use it as a ground cover plant best known for its foliage!

A POLYACETYLENE

The flowers of Ground-Elder contain the highest concentration of Falcarindiol, up to 9% by weight. Falcarindiol has been shown to possess anti-cancer activity and also inhibits the germination of fungal spores, a property the plant may find useful. Another polyacetylenic compound, Falcarinol is also present in Ground-Elder as well as an un-named third. Ivy too contains falcarindiol, which has two energetic triple bonds, unusual (but not unique) in the natural world. Triple bonds are highly reactive, which is why polyacetylenes are so toxic.

The crushed flowers, stems and foliage have a characteristic smell, some say of cats pee whilst other say of a pleasant smell. Over twenty volatile organic compounds have been identified within it. these consist mainly of terpenoids the most abundant being Sabinene at 63%, followed by α-Pinene, β-Pinene, Myrcene, α-Geraniol, α-Thujene which is highly poisonous and β-Phellandrene. Minor components include Citronellol, Linalool, IsoBorneol and acetates of Terpenols. The leaves and stems are also edible and are high in Vitamin E and Vitamin C and can be eaten as salad, the taste being reminiscent of Celery. It has also been used to cure rheumatism and gout (hence the alternative vernacular name of Gout-weed - and this is also reflected in the scientific name of podagraria - podagra being the medical name for gout). External application as a poultice can treat burns, wounds and stings.


  Aegopodium podagraria  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Apiaceae  

Distribution
 family8Umbelliferae family8Carrot family8Apiaceae

 BSBI maps
genus8Aegopodium
Aegopodium
(Ground-Elder)

GROUND-ELDER

GOUT-WEED

Aegopodium podagraria

Carrot Family [Apiaceae]  

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