Aegopodium podagraria (Goutweed)
|Also known as:||Bishop's Goutweed, Snow-on-the-mountain|
|Habitat:||part shade, shade, sun; woods, floodplains, roadsides, banks, gardens|
|Bloom season:||May - June|
|Plant height:||12 to 30 inches|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||GP: none MW: FAC NCNE: FAC|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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Flat or dome-shaped clusters (umbels) 2 to 4 inches across made up of 10 to 20 groups (umbellets) of up to 25 flowers each. Flowers are about 1/8 inch across with 5 white petals notched at the tip, and 5 white stamens. In the center, 2 long, white styles sit atop their disk-like, greenish-white bases.
Umbels and umbeletts have no bracts at the base. Stalks are light green, hairless and ridged. Flower clusters typically rise well above the leaves, at the top of the stem and arising from leaf axils in the upper plant.
Leaves and stems:
Leaves are compound; basal and lower stem leaves are long stalked and twice compound with up to 9 leaflets. Leaflets are 1 to 3 inches long, generally egg-shaped with pointed tips, toothed, mostly hairless, and often deeply cleft and asymmetrical at the base. “Wild” forms have solid green leaves, cultivated forms have varietated leaves, green to gray with white edging.
Leaves become smaller and shorter stalked as they ascend the stem with the upper stem leaves once compound with 3 leaflets or simple, 3-lobed leaves. At the base of a leaf stalk is a broad sheath that clasps the stem. Stems are branched, ridged, and hairless. Plants spread primarily vegetatively, through slender, creeping rhizomes.
Fruit is oval, about 1/6 inch long, slightly compressed, and ribbed. As fruit develops, the styles bend at the base and spread away from each other, but eventually fall off. When mature, the fruit splits into 2 seeds.
While not often encountered in natural areas, Goutweed is known to escape cultivation and, once established, can be difficult to erradicate since root fragments will resprout. It can quickly form dense monocultures, crowding out all other plants. One of the Bell Herbarium records described the population as as 15x15 meter (50x50 ft) patch in Superior National Forest, and an account from an infestation in Indiana described it as taking over a 6-acre spread of floodplain in a nature preserve. Bad stuff. The University of Wisconsin has recognized the potential for this species to become a serious, invasive pest and is recommending new populations be destroyed before they have the chance to establish. While the cultivated forms with varietaged leaves are apparently not as aggressive, they can revert to the “wild” form and take off from there.
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Where to buy native seed and plants ↓
- variegated leaves
- Goutweed plants in a flower bed
- plants with variegated leaves
- Goutweed running amok
Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in private gardens in Ramsey and Anoka counties.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?