Alternate Common Names: Goutwort; Herb-Gerard; Wild or English Masterwort;
Ax-ashe- or Aise-weed; Dwarf- or Bishop’s-weed; White-ash-herb; Garden-plague;
Dog- or Ground-elder; Snow-on-the-mountain; Jackjump-about; Bishop’s Goutweed
- herbaceous perennial; 1 1/2'-2 1/2' tall; spreads by creeping underground
- leaves alternate; each divided in three parts; lower leaves long-stalked
- lower leaves divided again, totalling 9 leaflets if fully divided (often not
- upper leaves short-stalked; smaller than lower leaves; frequently with only 3
- leaflets toothed; 1 1/2" to 3" long; horticultural varieties edged with a band
- flowers tiny; white; clustered in compound umbels (see glossary) 2 1/2" to 5"
- each flower makes a tiny woody fruit that divides into 2 parts, each about
Goutweed is in the Carrot family and in June-August has a long-stalked,
compound umbel of white flowers similar to Queen Anne’s Lace (the Wild Carrot of
roadsides). The presence of rhizomes (creeping underground stems) instead of a
carrot-like root and the leaves divided into three parts distinguish Goutweed
from Queen Anne’s Lace. Goutweed rhizomes are fragile and never produce sweet
potato-like thickenings. New plants grow from broken fragments of rhizome
carried to new places in transported soil or floodwaters.
Goutweed is an ornamental well-recognized as invasive in gardens, roadsides,
churchyards, and riverbanks in Europe. Although it is frequently described as
inhabiting waste places in North America, it also has been found to crowd out
native species in floodplains, woodlands, and open areas that would normally
develop into forest. Once established, it is very difficult to eradicate.