Aegopodium podagraria (Goutweed)

Plant Info
Also known as: Bishop's Goutweed, Snow-on-the-mountain
Family:Apiaceae (Carrot)
Life cycle:perennial
Origin:Europe, Asia
  • Weedy
Habitat:part shade, shade, sun; woods, floodplains, roadsides, banks, gardens
Bloom season:May - June
Plant height:12 to 30 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: none MW: FAC NCNE: FAC
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

Pick an image for a larger view. See the glossary for icon descriptions.

Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 5-petals Cluster type: flat

[photo of flowers] Flat or dome-shaped clusters (umbels) 2 to 4 inches across made up of 10 to 20 groups (umbellets) of up to 25 flowers each. Flowers are about 1/8 inch across with 5 white petals notched at the tip, and 5 white stamens. In the center, 2 long, white styles sit atop their disk-like, greenish-white bases.

[photo of bractless umbel] Umbels and umbeletts have no bracts at the base. Stalks are light green, hairless and ridged. Flower clusters typically rise well above the leaves, at the top of the stem and arising from leaf axils in the upper plant.

Leaves and stems: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf attachment: basal Leaf type: compound Leaf type: lobed

[photo of leaves] Leaves are compound; basal and lower stem leaves are long stalked and twice compound with up to 9 leaflets. Leaflets are 1 to 3 inches long, generally egg-shaped with pointed tips, toothed, mostly hairless, and often deeply cleft and asymmetrical at the base. “Wild” forms have solid green leaves, cultivated forms have varietated leaves, green to gray with white edging.

[photo of stem and upper leaf sheath] Leaves become smaller and shorter stalked as they ascend the stem with the upper stem leaves once compound with 3 leaflets or simple, 3-lobed leaves. At the base of a leaf stalk is a broad sheath that clasps the stem. Stems are branched, ridged, and hairless. Plants spread primarily vegetatively, through slender, creeping rhizomes.

Fruit: Fruit type: seed without plume

[photo of developing fruit] Fruit is oval, about 1/6 inch long, slightly compressed, and ribbed. As fruit develops, the styles bend at the base and spread away from each other, but eventually fall off. When mature, the fruit splits into 2 seeds.


While not often encountered in natural areas, Goutweed is known to escape cultivation and, once established, can be difficult to erradicate since root fragments will resprout. It can quickly form dense monocultures, crowding out all other plants. One of the Bell Herbarium records described the population as as 15x15 meter (50x50 ft) patch in Superior National Forest, and an account from an infestation in Indiana described it as taking over a 6-acre spread of floodplain in a nature preserve. Bad stuff. The University of Wisconsin has recognized the potential for this species to become a serious, invasive pest and is recommending new populations be destroyed before they have the chance to establish. While the cultivated forms with varietaged leaves are apparently not as aggressive, they can revert to the “wild” form and take off from there.

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More photos

Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in private gardens in Ramsey and Anoka counties.


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Carole Gernes; Ramsey Co. CWMA - Maplewood
on: 2014-12-04 14:07:15

There is a large patch at Hillside Park in Maplewood and a smaller area just west of Maplewood Nature Center.

Posted by: Amy - Albert Lea - Freeborn County
on: 2015-04-23 14:20:55

I have positively identified this weed in a garden in my yard. This is the 3rd year it has reappeared and, instead of just a handful of plants, it has taken over a 3' x 3'-plus area and is spreading quickly. How can I eradicate it? Leaves are a dark, uniform green color, not variegated. Thanks!

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2015-04-24 08:36:27

Amy, this is very difficult to eradicate. You can dig but any root fragments left in the soil will just resprout. Repeated herbicide treatment might not kill it, but may weaken it enough to stop or slow spreading. I heard one report of digging down 2+ feet, removing all plants and roots, then covering with black plastic for 6 months to a year might cook it.

Posted by: Kate - St Paul
on: 2015-05-23 07:58:12

I have been battling this sucker for a few years since I bought the house (then a terribly neglected yard). Digging it up and covering the area with heavy plastic does work - be sure to watch the edges of the plastic where it tries to sneak back. VERY labor intensive. For large patches, a spray for Poison Ivy/Tough Brush killer works best. It kills everything so take care. Even after most is gone, you will find a few rogues trying to make a comeback.

Posted by: Elain - Cambridge Township
on: 2017-05-29 21:08:44

Thought it was a nice looking verigated edging plant when we bought the place last year. This year, it's taking over a large flower garden and spreading into our wooded area. Flamethrower maybe?

Posted by: molly
on: 2017-05-30 11:43:32

noticed this plant last year at my home north of Duluth. It is solid green, no verigation. my nearest neighbor is 1/2 mile away so I suspect it is wild. I finally identified it this year. It is a thick mono-culture nearly 10ft by 10ft. I will dig and cover with palstic. It is within 10 feet of a frog-filled pond that drains to a trout stream - I am hesitant to use herbicide. Any other suggestions?

Posted by: Marcia S - East of Emily, Little Pine Township, Crow Wing County
on: 2017-07-30 11:46:21

We live in the woods and remember first seeing the plant when we brought in local manure for our garden in the 1970's. I keep it out of the garden but it is slowly spreading throughout our yard which gets mowed regularly. We don't use herbicides. We weren't planning to eradicate it because we like it better than the Creeping Charlie that is spreading even faster (also came in with the manure). We'd love to get rid of that!

Posted by: John A
on: 2018-06-04 23:06:22

Found in this in 6 different places in my yard and garden. I noticed it cropping up last year and despite its innocent appearance, knew that something was afoul by the way it spread. But I did not identify it until just now. Now, if I can only keep it out of the house.

Posted by: Daniel M - Saint Paul
on: 2018-06-23 13:34:52

I live in a wooded area in Battle Creek and have a large area of goutweed growing in my back yard. It is on a hillside and I like it for erosion control and the plant it keeps out the most is Buckthorn. The area grows a bit each year and now is probably 30' x 30'. I do not have any thing else I want to plant there (too shaded for grass) but am I risking the oak woods at Battle Creek Park? They are having a hard enough time with the Buckthorn.

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2018-06-23 16:20:51

Daniel, yes you are risking Battle Creek. Get rid of the goutweed, if you can. There are soooooooo many shade-tolerant native species you could have in that space instead, many of which already grow in Battle Creek Park, such as wild ginger - an excellent ground cover.

Posted by: Lita F. - St. Paul
on: 2018-07-06 13:51:06

I just identified that we have this plant growing in a 10 x 6 feet patch. It has taken over many different times in the course of our 25 years here. We have re-landscaped several times, and it finds away of recovering and taking over again. Thanks for all the comments and the picture identification. Now, I know how to down-size and eradicate it.

Posted by: Lynn W. - Rochester, MN, Olmsted County
on: 2020-05-17 12:54:25

We have had small patches of the variegated variety on the edge of the oak woods on our property (which we tolerated), but in the last few years it seems to have turned into a taller, much more aggressive and green variety. Holy cow, this stuff is spreading many feet per year and is now a 20' x 40' dense green patch. Time to spray with Roundup + brush killer and recover the landscape.

Posted by: Dianna N - Southwestern MN Brown County
on: 2020-06-01 06:36:33

My parents have the variegated on the north side of their home. They noticed a bunch of plants with solid colored plants this year that are growing like crazy. I was just able to get it identified yesterday due to photos. It is definitely the variegated gone wild and spreading fast. I’ve advised them to pull it all and dispose of it.

Posted by: bruce honnigford - Minnetonka
on: 2020-06-16 09:24:35

I discovered 1 plant on my wooded lot in May and could not ID it positively so left it alone. Several weeks later 10 plants appeared in the same small area and I was able to identify it. I pulled the plants but it is probably going to come back in greater numbers like the Sandpeople.

Posted by: Jason Husveth - Tettegouche Camp, Tettegouche State Park
on: 2020-07-23 14:34:04

There's a variagated and non-variagated naturalized population at the Tettegouche Camp and along the camp trails. It is assumed by us that it was planted there and is naturalizing and spreading. Lake County, MN. We did not collect vouchers.

Posted by: Kris Robison - St Paul
on: 2021-05-02 17:04:19

I cannot believe this is still sold in MN. There has been a patch between our house and the neighbors for decades that stayed there. In past 5 or so years, it has taken off across the lawn, jumping the sidewalk. Removing it has been difficult, and I am not willing to use chemicals, which I read is not really successful with a significant downside. I am attempting to replace it with virginia waterleaf and some hostess to shade it out and am making progress

Posted by: Hagen Gamradt - Long Prairie MN
on: 2021-06-22 22:24:31

Is this plant poisonous? Ingestion? I have found it still within gardens.

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2021-06-23 18:22:46

Hagen, I don't believe goutweed is poisonous.

Posted by: Cindy Mathison - Racine
on: 2021-07-10 12:07:12

This plant has been in my yard 20 some years taken over my garden yard, we have pulled it all out and it does not want to go away and we are trying to kill it now by suffocating and Trimec Weed Killer.

Posted by: Jake LaVigne - Chaska
on: 2022-05-11 16:47:08

I have actually had great success controlling Aegopodium with a glyphosate foliar spray in late spring followed by replacement with native groundcovers. Collateral damage is to be expected of course, but may be worth it depending on the severity of the infestation.

Posted by: Kathy Doyle - Eagan
on: 2022-09-08 11:29:07

There's a small patch of variegated Goutweed at Moose Lake St. Park near the dam.

Posted by: Mary Egan - Savage
on: 2023-04-15 21:18:38

I'm looking for snow on the mountain also known as Bishops Weed. I need a good ground cover.

Posted by: K Chayka
on: 2023-04-16 08:30:54

Mary, do not put this horrible plant in your yard. Good native ground covers include wild strawberry, wild ginger, violets, and several native grasses and sedges, all of which are low maintenance and can support pollinators. While these may spread, they are much easier to control than goutweed.

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