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Incoming BYTES
contains highly variable subject matter including commentary on the mundane, the extraordinary and even controversial issues. At Incoming BYTES
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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Update: The Intruder....Guess what?

 Would you like Butter with that?

Loyal readers of Incoming Bytes will  recall our  recent post and call for information and identification of an unknown plant, an invasive  nuisance, an unknown intruder  that we are blessed with.  Or plagued with, depending on how you look at it.
 We asked "What's this? " 

Here is the original picture of the plant we were attempting  to identify.  The intruder:

Various helpful suggestions were made including sub-varieties of poison oak, poison ivy and other nasty plants . A common thread was "it looks familiar"  and 'it looks poisonous',  but nobody could quite put a finger on it.

I would like to, but I cannot take credit.   Well, okay,  my personal gardener, another green thumb type, to be specific--- discovered the identification,  true nature,  and characteristics of the intruder.

The plant is  Aegopodium podagraria from  the plant family Apiaceae 
 Isn't that nice?  What's that, you say?  Eh??   Do you know what that is?  I sure didn't !   

  It is commonly known as  Ground Elder  (by everybody except us, apparently)    and is also known by  various names such as Bishop's weed,  Goutweed, Goutwort,  'Snow-on-the-Mountain', Garden Plague, and Herb Gerard!  --( **and many other historical names, see below)
 It is a perennial, and a variegated green/white version of the plant is sold for artistic, decorative ground cover. Here is  our original variegated Ground Elder in the back yard :

Variegated Ground Elder
 Apparently, the variegated version can revert to plain, old annoying GREEN Ground Elder! 

 Am I surprised now?  Well....um........no.   
We did plant the white variegated version in that location a number of years ago and  for some reason it 'didn't show up' the following spring.  We assumed it died.  Transplanted stuff does that.  No such luck.  It seems the plain old green one appeared instead.   

For further confirmation, both plants have  the same triangular cross-sectioned stems, same leaves,  same roots and  plant structure. No wonder!    
Here is  what Ground Elder looks like 'officially', and the link gives the complete scoop on it.
 You can even eat the stuff, it is a pot herb,  it tastes a bit like celery.  Cook it like spinach if you like, --but out in the garden,  it's really hard to get rid of!  The roots, flowers and seed pods are all identical to those observed on our intruder. 

*Ground Elder  1.0 

Now what?  Did you know that variegated plants could change colors?  Some flowers can too, in different soil, different environments!  The soil in the problem area is different, quite acidic, and moss grows on the shaded, damp surface.
I guess there's not much point in trying to get rid of it. It's supposedly good medicine for gout and rheumatism too.     
 Hmm...it does taste a bit like celery or spinach, or 'something like that'.  
 I tried it.  
Guess what?  Food! The dried roots can even be ground up for flour.  It is worth a buck!

**addendum:   (2.0)   Here's another great link with a lot more information about Ground Elder  that was brought to my attention by W. Diane van Zwolhttp://www.spookspring.com/Umbels/Ground_Elder.html
There are many  historical additional traditional names, botanical data,  uses  and other information on Ground Elder in this link, so check it out!   Thanks, W. Diane !

Is that incoming I hear? 

1.0       Photo credit  'Ground Elder'  and information  courtesy of  www.dgsgardening.btinternet.co.uk
2.0       http://www.spookspring.com/Umbels/Ground_Elder.html


  1. Well, I do have Bishop's weed aka Snow-on-the-mountain but it is not at all irritating like you said yours is, but I did indeed know of variegated plants reverting back to its original single shade of green. I did show you my Lysmachia Alexander, recall? I now have a Lysmachia without the Alexander variegation, and I'm quite put out about it!

    1. hi Glory, does your Bishop's weed look like mine? This stuff isn't irritating in the sense that I get a rash from it or anything, but is vapourescent when clipped with weedwacker string. The heavy scent is reminiscent of celery or perhaps a little bit like parsley. It actually tastes good! Too bad about the Lysmachia variegation being absence, they can be quite striking. Well,,,at least we found out what this stuff is! Thanks for commenting! Hm..,interestingly....it still looks a bit like poison oak too..hahahha. ~ R

  2. Replies
    1. Hi DoyoumeanwhatIknow, I, too was very surprised about this one! It's really amazing how little we actually know about the plants surrounding us. Thanks for dropping in! Will that be salad, or greens? ":) ~R

  3. Hahahaha! I would have neve guessed! But comparing the two pictures I can see it. Glad you found out what it was, and it's nice that it is acutally useful for things besides taking over your garden.

    1. Hi Storm, kind of funny isn't it? I was really amazed to find out what it is, but in the long term, it will be helpful and useful AND everywhere. I'll just lawnmower the excesses....and won't let it near the garden! Thank you for visiting! Good medicine, apparently too! ":) ~R

  4. I have Goutweed growing beside the house and it is spreading onto the lawn. It is almost impossible to get rid of and I am sorry I ever planted the stuff. It is very, very invasive and whatever you do, do not plant it in a garden, vegetable or flower garden. It will take over. We do not even allow it at our horticultural society annual plant auction! On the other hand, I have Lovage growing in my small vegetable garden,and it grows quite tall, is not invasive and is wonderful as a celery substitute, as it tastes just like it. The leaves can be harvested and used wherever you would use celery, fresh or cooked. Use it sparingly though, as it has a very strong flavour.

    1. Hi Phyllis, do you have the green variety or the variegate white/green? Apparently it keeps on going until you exhaust the roots somehow, so keep lawn-mowering it... but then it plants itself with new seeds too! So--use it for food and lawnmower the rest.
      I was going to sell some! ...hahahhahaha! The 'Snow-on-the-Mountain variegate is quite attractive, which is how we got in trouble with it in the first place! Beautiful stuff. Very good crop!
      We were also given a plant the other day that they called "Romanian Celery" ,interestingly, it looks like Lovage and it does taste good too, it tastes like strong celery, so that's probably what it is. Go figure, I hope it's not invasive. Thanks for the warnings on ground elder. I prefer not to call it gout weed because it is useful, Phyllis! Have a great rainy day! ":)) ~R

  5. Im so pleased you found the name of the intruder Raymond. And great to see you found out so much about it also.. Yes I did know leaves could change due to soil conditions etc.. Now if it had come up varigated I am certain you would have known who the intruder was.. :-)

    Wishing you a Great Weekend.. I maybe having a short break from blogging for a while.. Lots going on over in the Dreamwalkers Gardens too and need to concentrate on other things a little while..
    Peace and Light wished your way.. ~Sue

    1. Hi, Sue, so am I ! Very astute observation, if it was the other way around, I AND MANY OTHERS PROBABLY would have recognized it in a minute! Not many people know that plants, even flowers --can change colours under different soil conditions! Being in tune with the earth, I do not find it surprising AT ALL that you are aware of that fact.
      If you need to take time off blogging, DO take the time you need to refresh, and have a great hiatus! Blessings to you, Peace and Light to you too! We shall catch up when you return! ":) ~R

  6. I did not know what this plant was either. I do wonder why some plants have so many names by which they are known... mind you I too have a few! I do not know much about gardening but I do enjoy your blog posts. Take care my friend.

    1. Hi ChristB, nice to see you! In the second note linked to this article this plant has a LOT of names, I imagine it goes back a long way in history and the use of specific plants waxes and wanes like everything else? Write a poem about it and use every name listed...I do hope you are well too, and that Poetic Parfait is coming along, MY friend! Thank you for visiting! ChristyB is always listening for new plant names...":) ~R

  7. Ahhhh....Good to know the answer! Sounds like it could make for a love hate relationship. We aren't getting any younger RK, better keep it around for it's medicinal properties :) Have a wonderful weekend... VK

    1. Vk, yes, it is great isn't it? I am really happy to hear that it can be a food plant instead of 'just a nuisance'. It has some medicinal properties we all need oo, so that's not such a bad thing as time progresses...":))
      Do have a wonderful weekend yourself too! Thank you for stopping by, I really enjoy your posts and insight ! ~R

  8. Now that it has a name, it is not so much a stranger any more. Seems like you were getting the advice to taste it before!

    Yes, plants do change colors and variegation is often a hybrid technique which is more volatile that first expected. Especially, with the cold in your neck of the woods, the green version is far heartier. May just be why it survived, where the varie could not.

    I like things which have celery flavor but none of those annoying strings!

  9. Hi Red, thanks for dropping in! We have the "Snow on the Mountain" variegate which is THRIVING here --and it finally came to light that we DID plant that variegate in that location later, --which never showed up on that planting site-the following year-- but the strange, unidentified green one did. I like the taste of ground elder.
    It actually does taste like celery and is quite good raw. We haven't eaten any cooked yet...and best part, 'no strings attached! ":))


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