ground elder

Identification, Prevention and Cure.

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ground elder

Postby Fran Williams » 31 Mar 2007 14:47

:cry: How do I eradicate ground elder - it is a huge problem in the garden and spreads amongst precious plants - can I get rid of it without resorting to high level chemicals?
Moved to Cambridgeshire 19 months ago and inherited beautiful garden and with help of many books am beginning to make it our own!!!
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Postby gardening_guru » 01 Apr 2007 20:36


I am surprised that question has not come up before on the forum because groundelder can be a real problem and much patience is required to eradicate it.

Groundelder (Aegopodium podagraria) gets its name from the shape of the leaves, which resemble those of the shrubby elders. However, that is where the relationship between the two ends because they are not related at all botanically. Groundelder is a perennial weed that predominantly spreads by underground stems called rhizomes. The root system of this plant is prolific, each ‘runner’ has many nodes along its length which can quickly sprout new shoots when the runner is damaged.

You might be surprised at the advice I am going to give you for dealing with groundelder. I suggest you eat it. The leaves are very tasty and best cooked just like spinach and served with butter. Just make sure that it has not been sprayed with weedkiller the day before!

Seriously, if you religiously harvest every single leaf from the groundelder once per week over the course of the growing season (Mar-Nov) you will weaken the root system so much that it will probably die.

Other methods of control could include relocating the ‘precious’ plants to another part of the garden (although you will be have to be extremely careful not to relocate the groundelder as well). Once the valuable plants have been moved you can concentrate, over a number of months, on digging out the thin white roots of the groundelder. When you think you have done it properly, leave it for a month and come back again and have another go as there is no chance that you will have dug out every single last bit.

It is also important to try and contain the problem, so rigid plastic can be used in a trench around the groundelder to stop it spreading any further whilst you spend a few months digging it out.

Hope I have been of some help.
George aka The Gardening Guru
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