The Bishops…Gout…Weed?

Authored by Kristelle Falk - Greenhouse Sales Manager
Jul 26th, 2020
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Bishops Goutweed, Snow on the Mountain, Gout-wort, Ground Elder, Wild Master Wort: what is this plant? Well, regardless of some of the rather unappealing names, it actually is a rather beautiful perennial. It is an aggressive ground cover perennial that is great for a shady spot you just want to fill. It stands only about 6 to 10 inches tall and has dense variegated foliage. Bishops Goutweed does very well underneath trees and deep shade making it great for filling the difficult spots. Another fact about this odd little plant is that it is part of the carrot family! WHAT?!  Now that does not mean it grows carrots so please don’t go ripping up your plants expecting to see carrots. It is simply related to carrots.

There are a couple different types of Snow on the Mountain, variegated or otherwise, with these lovely clusters of white blooms. Some of the varieties were even classified as edible, making a great substitute for spinach! (Please do not eat your plant unless you have thoroughly examined that it is an edible variety. Please seek medical help immediately if you have eaten a plant that is not edible!) I should stress that if the plant is eaten at the wrong time it gains a bitter taste and can have a laxative effect, so watch out! Make sure that you do your research before ever trying this. The time to try them, if you want, is before they bloom. You can keep Bishops Goutweed as a potted herb, but make sure you are always following the instructions to prevent it from blooming. If it blooms, stop using it immediately if you want to avoid some explosive consequences.

So other than sometimes being edible, what else is this plant good for? Well I already stated that it is a deep shade loving plant. It is also a very easy care plant with very few specific needs. General watering, weeding care, and the occasional fertilizer is all it needs. These plants however are a very aggressive spreader and can be very easily split to fill in other areas. If you are planting this perennial I highly recommend that you place them in an area with a concrete border or a bed with a landscape edging border if you do not want it to consume your yard.

Now here is the most pressing question. Why, out of all the things is could have been called, is it called gout weed? Well it’s a very practical name since this plant was used a long time ago to treat gout and arthritis. Used in hot wraps or ingested to help sooth pains or even to be used as a mild sedative. However, before you go using this again you should know that the medical use of this plant has been widely and strongly rejected for its medical use by modern medicine. Please apply common sense and thorough research before contemplating ingesting any plants. So what did we learn? 

One: Bishops Gout Weed is a great filler plant for those deeply shady areas you just want colour in. Two: Don’t eat plants without thorough research and using common sense! And Three: Trust modern medicine when they don’t recommend certain herbs, there is a good reason for the rejection of certain plants in the medical society. I hope you found this quirky little blurb both informative, and entertaining.

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