Sunday, June 20, 2010

Bishop's Weed

Do not plant this ground cover unless its some place you really don't mind if it takes over. It can make you crazy as it spreads like wildfire. I got this huge patch from one plant that came stuck to the root of a fern my Mother gave me. The Fern did not take hold but the Bishop's weed did! The varigated version is very pretty and called "Snow on the Mountain". It has its uses but it really is a pest in many gardens. Be careful if you put it in for sure. Never mix it in your flower beds or herb beds.

Bishops Weed was introduced in to gardens in England during the Middle Ages by the Romans and used as a pot herb, then because of it’s vigor, escaped to the wild where it made itself at home on the edge of woodlands and in waste places. It was known by many names which included the following: Herb Gerard, (After St. Gerard who cured gout with it.) Bishop’s Wort, Bishop’s Elder, Dog Elder, Dwarf Elder, Ground Elder, Goat’s Foot, Goatweed, Farmer’s Plague, Garden Plague, Ground Ash, Pot-Ash, White Ash, Jack Jumpabout, English Masterwort, Wild Masterwort, Pigweed, Eltroot, Cummin Seed, Cummin Royal, Herb William. Bull-Wort.

It belongs to the Umbelliferae family, a large hardy herbaceous clan that shares the common characteristic of having an umbrella shaped flower. Relatives include: Queen Anne’s Lace, Angelica, Dill, Caraway, Fennel, Parsley, Chervil, Hemlock and Parsnip to name a few. Its scientific name Aegopodium is from Greek: aix: goat & podin: little foot. Podagraria is from Greek for gout. Historically it has also been used medicinally for bee stings, burns, wounds, etc., as well as treatment of gout.

In The Herbal by John Gerard who made this comment in 1633:

Herbe Gerard groweth of it selfe in gardens without setting or sowing, and is so fruitful in his increase, that where it once hath taken root, it will be hardly got out againe, spoiling and getting every year more ground, to the annoying of better herbs.

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