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What is Aegopodium?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 12 June 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
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Aegopodium is a genus of flowering plants in the parsley family. These plants are native to Europe and Asia, where they have historically been used in some regions as culinary herbs. They are also cultivated as ornamentals and have been exported to many regions of the world. Gardeners should be cautious about Aegopodium, as it has been classified as an invasive species in some areas and it can be highly invasive. It is important to plant it in areas where easy containment is possible.

Plants in this genus have colorful green foliage that may be variegated in some cultivars. The plants produce upright stems and a mat of green overtopped by umbels of white flowers in the spring and summer. Aegopodium is a rapid-spreading groundcover and a perennial. In the fall, the plants tend to die back and many gardeners cut them back entirely to make room for a new flush of foliage in the spring.

Hardy in USDA zones three through nine, Aegopodium is commonly used as a groundcover in large areas where its aggressiveness will not be a problem. It can also be advisable to plant it in containers or other clearly defined areas to prevent the spread of the plant to areas where it is not wanted, and it does not take well to companion plantings. Eventually, it will overrun companions and it can be difficult to pull the Aegopodium out of the ground without damaging the root systems of the companion plants.

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Some people experience skin reactions to plants in this genus and it is advisable to wear gloves while handling it. It is also attractive to butterflies, bees, and birds, and can be a good inclusion in a garden designed to attract wildlife with a natural look and feel and an assortment of plants. People may see plants in this genus for sale under names like bishop's weed, snow on the mountain, or goutweed. Gardeners who cultivate it are usually willing to make trades with other gardeners.

Dealing with unwanted invasive Aegopodium can be a challenge. Pulling the plants out by the roots is recommended, along with covering the soil with a thick weed barrier for several weeks. Some people plant on top of the weed barrier, although there is a risk that new shoots can emerge around the corners or through holes. Herbicides are available to treat areas where this plant has become invasive and they should be used as directed on the label.

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