Aegopodium podagraria (Goutweed)

Plant Info
Also known as: Bishop's Goutweed, Snow-on-the-mountain
Family:Apiaceae (Carrot)
Life cycle:perennial
Origin:Europe, Asia
  • Weedy
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):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 5-petals Cluster type: flat

[photo of flowers] 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.

[photo of bractless umbel] 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: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf attachment: basal Leaf type: compound Leaf type: lobed

[photo of leaves] 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.

[photo of stem and upper leaf sheath] 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: Fruit type: seed without plume

[photo of developing fruit] 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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More photos

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?

Posted by: Carole Gernes; Ramsey Co. CWMA - Maplewood
on: 2014-12-04 14:07:15

There is a large patch at Hillside Park in Maplewood and a smaller area just west of Maplewood Nature Center.

Posted by: Amy - Albert Lea - Freeborn County
on: 2015-04-23 14:20:55

I have positively identified this weed in a garden in my yard. This is the 3rd year it has reappeared and, instead of just a handful of plants, it has taken over a 3' x 3'-plus area and is spreading quickly. How can I eradicate it? Leaves are a dark, uniform green color, not variegated. Thanks!

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2015-04-24 08:36:27

Amy, this is very difficult to eradicate. You can dig but any root fragments left in the soil will just resprout. Repeated herbicide treatment might not kill it, but may weaken it enough to stop or slow spreading. I heard one report of digging down 2+ feet, removing all plants and roots, then covering with black plastic for 6 months to a year might cook it.

Posted by: Kate - St Paul
on: 2015-05-23 07:58:12

I have been battling this sucker for a few years since I bought the house (then a terribly neglected yard). Digging it up and covering the area with heavy plastic does work - be sure to watch the edges of the plastic where it tries to sneak back. VERY labor intensive. For large patches, a spray for Poison Ivy/Tough Brush killer works best. It kills everything so take care. Even after most is gone, you will find a few rogues trying to make a comeback.

Posted by: Elain - Cambridge Township
on: 2017-05-29 21:08:44

Thought it was a nice looking verigated edging plant when we bought the place last year. This year, it's taking over a large flower garden and spreading into our wooded area. Flamethrower maybe?

Posted by: molly
on: 2017-05-30 11:43:32

noticed this plant last year at my home north of Duluth. It is solid green, no verigation. my nearest neighbor is 1/2 mile away so I suspect it is wild. I finally identified it this year. It is a thick mono-culture nearly 10ft by 10ft. I will dig and cover with palstic. It is within 10 feet of a frog-filled pond that drains to a trout stream - I am hesitant to use herbicide. Any other suggestions?

Posted by: Marcia S - East of Emily, Little Pine Township, Crow Wing County
on: 2017-07-30 11:46:21

We live in the woods and remember first seeing the plant when we brought in local manure for our garden in the 1970's. I keep it out of the garden but it is slowly spreading throughout our yard which gets mowed regularly. We don't use herbicides. We weren't planning to eradicate it because we like it better than the Creeping Charlie that is spreading even faster (also came in with the manure). We'd love to get rid of that!

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