Ground Elder – not just a weed!

Ground Elder (Aegopodium podagraria) is a weed and quite an invasive one at that, but it is very tasty! Some foraging books extol its virtues and others almost completely ignore it. It’s other name is gout weed and tinctures of it have been used to treat gout!

Allegedly brought over by the Romans it has adapted well to our northern climate and can be found pretty much everywhere. It grows from seed and also by loads of underground runners so when it gets going it really is noticeable. We live near a railway line and it has crept over from there across our rockery and the field to the side of our house.

ground elder creeping through wallCreeping through the neighbours wall!

The waxy young leaves are quite spicy a bit like rocket and are very tasty added to salads. The older leaves can be cooked up and used in any recipe you might use spinach. They lose their flavour a bit on cooking but are still very nice in an omelette or a risotto. I often add them to lasagne or pasta dishes to add a bit of colour.

ground elder waxy leafTasty waxy leaves

The uncooked fresh leaves make a very nice pesto .. recipe to follow…

When the ground elder starts to flower (usually in June) the leaves become quite bitter so best to eat the leaves before then. If you are keen you can cut the flowers off as they start to shoot and this will encourage more leaf growth.

If you are unlucky enough to have more ground elder than you would like.. a top tip.. plant some French marigolds. Apparently, a naturally occurring fungus in the marigold roots aggravates the ground elder and so it won’t grow past them.

groundelderflowers

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