Ground Elder, Another Invasive Plant to Eat

I moved to a new place in the late fall and waited to see what would come up around the house in the spring.

Growing beside the house was Ground Elder (Aegopodium Podagraria). Ground Elder is also called Goutweed but I prefer not using the epithet, “weed.” They were running along the size of the house and I decide to harvest most of them. Being an invasive plant there was no issue with harvesting them hard.


They often appear in colonies spread by rhizomes.


An individual leaf grows from a single stem rising from the ground.

A leaf made of its leaflets. Photo by Greg Sandford.

Each leaflet has a petiole with the terminal leaflet having a longer petiole then the others.

Older Ground Elder Leaf Number of Leaflets
This Ground Elder has three leaves with each leaf having three petioles and each leaflet having a petiole. There are no lobes in these leaves.

The petioles will have a cavity indenting them.

Ground Elder Cavitites in Stems

Each leaflet will have none, one or two lobes.

The left leaflet and right leaflet are not symmetrical.
These leaflets have no lobes.
Two to Three Lobed Ground Elder
The terminal leaflet has two lobes and the other leaflets have one lobe.

The leaflets have course teeth.

Course Toothed Margins and Uneven
Course teeth on the Ground Elder.

The venation of the leaves are reticulate or in other word, marbled.

Older Ground Elder Leaf Number

The leaf’s stem can be quite long.



The flowering plants are a good indicator of identifying Ground Elder as the Flowering Stem will have all the leaves from from it. The flowering stem will often lean when smaller and will stand upright when older.

A leaning flowering stem.

The most mature plants will have different leafing habits as they lose some of their tertiary leafing.


The non-flowering plants around the house were harvested midway from the central stem and put into a basket. They were then put onto a tarp to dry. They dry nicely and will be used for making soups.


Time of Year:

The time of year in the Northeast is going to be mid-Spring typically when weather has cooler weather days. I harvested these in in June in Central Maine which has a relatively long winter, and a cold spring.

Method of Preparation:

The leaves can be used fresh or dried. Most of these are being dried out in a shady place as of writing this article. The leafs and stems can be gathered before flowering.



The fresh leaves boiled for a minute in a small amount of boiling water with a tab of butter and a few pinches of sea salt makes a great simple soup.



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