Bishop's Weed

bob_westmassApril 21, 2006


I have a huge area that was overgrown with many weeds when we bought our house, among them bishop's weed. It sounds like short of lots of roundup, and/or many hours of labor, I'm unlikely to be able to get rid of it.

I'm wondering if it might not be best to just make peace with it. It seems that most perennials compete with it quite well.

If I just clear areas for new plantings, is there any big negative to just leaving it? Does anyone know if it would endanger any plants I might add to the garden?



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People have very different perspectives on this plant (and many others, too!). My own "take" on Aegopdium is that it is a groundcover par excellence; this is not to say it ought be anyone's FIRST choice.

We have a neighbor who has a very long, winding driveway to his home. The professional (MAGNIFICENT) landscaping of it includes Aegopodium. It's been used in an essentially FULL shade environment, and the masses of it are very large (6-8'deep by maybe 12-15' wide). It is an underplanting for early flowering trees (dogwoods). It is perfectly breathtaking in this, CONTAINED! context. Used thusly, it is superb!

Is this something you might want to introduce to a garden/more cultivated area? NO! But, if the area it presently inhabits is on the fringes of your more cultivated areas... and you're interested in choking out "weeds". I say, let it "rock on!". It will.

Be careful with it... it's a tough customer. As with any successful plant it is easily able to "set up camp" and colonize quickly. Like a bad case of "crabs"... you need to manage this one early and relentlessly. Take no prisoners. Watch your exposure. ;)

    Bookmark   April 21, 2006 at 6:55PM
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I don't usually admit this, but not only do I have a clump of it in my tiny "woods", I actually planted it myself. It's in an area that tends to fill up with a truly noxious weed, garlic mustard. Bishops weed is the only thing that can outcompete the mustard, and it needs no care of any kind, so it saves me lots of time weeding and/or watering in that area.

It is in full shade and is contained on 3 sides. So far so good, I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it's under control.

Sometimes I wonder if I should have instructions, something like a living will, taped to the fridge. "In case of my untimely demise, or if I develop a condition in which I am unable to do so for myself, I hereby state that my survivors or caretakers should eradicate the Aegopdium behind the Kousa as soon as possible."

If I were trying to get rid of it, I'd use layers of cardboard covered with mulch. That normally kills everything within a season or two.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2006 at 7:33PM
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arbo_retum(z5 ,WinchstrMA)

for your perennial beds this weed- from -hell is just that. it will take over and kill your perennials.below is what i pasted from the 3 most helpful GW posts about it.i will be doing the multiple- vigilant -sprayings route myself.

folks, I am a professional gardener in eastern maine. Though I would love to tell you that there is an easy fix to this intolerable, noxious, nasty, horrendous (and oh, so innocent looking) weed, so far, I have found nothing, except alot of patience and time on your knees pays off. I have a client that, when I took over the account 3 years ago, was infested with this--- I have turned the gardens on their heads, weeding the rootballs of the plants,( the root of this weed is easy to spot) and after 3 years of diligence, I am happy to report that I am winning the battle. If anyone wants to try this, here are a few tips.... keep in mind that aegopodium likes to grow in the top 4 inches of soil, so don't dig too deep when getting it out. you will undoubtedly miss a few rootlets, just dig them out as they show up, and be persistent! Edging does help, as it will allow you to work smaller areas at a time without worrying about re-infestation from surrounding areas (nothing is easier on this crap than nice fluffy soil) I am going to try a heavy dose of round-up just before dormancy, that may be the key. Oh, yeah.... don't try to compost this stuff, it will spread, no matter how deep. DROWN IT! put it in a barrel, cover with water, do not allow light.... stinks like crazy but is the only sure way to kill it Good luck!
I read online that there is a vegetation killer called ARSENAL HERBICIDE that should be able to eradicate it. Is anyone familiar with this product? It is manufactured by BASF Corporation.
The chemical compound is:
2-(4,5-Dihydro-4-methyl-4-(1-methylethyl)-5-oxo-1H-imidazol-2-yl)-3-pyridinecarboxylic acid with 2-propanamine (1:1)

I'm not advertising this product and as of yet I'm not familiar with it. I'm just desperatly frustrated with the goutweed and am looking for help of getting rid of it.

To kill it, start in the spring after the plants have emerged but before they get to full size. Use Round-Up, the formulation that spreads through the plant and attacks the root. Spray weekly (and throughly) for several weeks. Do not pull or disrupt the plants for the first two weeks. After two weeks, which gives the Round-Up a chance to circulate through the plant, I use a weed-wacker to take the plants down to the ground. I then wait at least several days, then when new growth starts, apply Round-Up again. A couple of cycles of this should eliminate most of the plants. I then till thoroughly and apply Round-Up about a wekk after tilling.

I have one bed this sumer that is now free from this pest, and so far it has not come back. Of course, this would not work if you have other plants in the area you want to clean.

I have also noticed that it is helpful to keep the area that you are trying to cleam up as dry as possible.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2006 at 1:50AM
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chervil2(z5 MA)

I have had Aegopodium contained as a groundcover around my office building for many years. I am happy with this plant in its present state. I think that Creeping Charlie is far worse and do not have this plant under control at all.


    Bookmark   April 22, 2006 at 7:21PM
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javaandjazz(z6 CT)

Do you think this would stay contained in the area in between the sidewalk and the road curb? I cannot grow grass in that area and figured bishops weed might work. Will the roots grow under the sidewalk and into my yard? The sidewalk is about 4 feet wide. Thanks,Richie

    Bookmark   April 23, 2006 at 9:38AM
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I don't think you'd be unable to contain it in that situation, Richie., but who can predict the future with certainty? ;)

What sort of light does the area get (shaded by street trees? or blasting hot sun and no available water? something in between?)? What's the soil like?

I rather doubt it would be able to tunnel under 4' of concrete, but...

As I mentioned above, this is valuable plant, but you have to treat it with respect, because it's tough and adaptable. And it is fully capable of making your gardening life a living hell (as arbo. has attested!).

    Bookmark   April 24, 2006 at 4:11PM
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javaandjazz(z6 CT)

The area is eastern morning sun and then eventually shade in the afternoon. YOu guys all have me nervous about this plant! Thanks.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2006 at 6:14PM
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You should be nervous about it. It's a PITA to eliminate if wrongly sited. Don't set yourself up for heartbreak.

But if the area in which you fancy you'd like to plant it is contained (all 4 sides?), the it may just be a wonderful plant for you. I have already touted its laudible characteristics. Have you thought about Pachysandra? Plenty of people have "dissed" it, too! but it's a wonderful plant in the RIGHT place.

Gardening is about tough choices (just like life); sometimes you make good ones, sometimes you don't.

"So... do you feel lucky? well do ya?"

    Bookmark   April 24, 2006 at 6:22PM
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arbo_retum(z5 ,WinchstrMA)

if you do plant the bishops weed, do the variega. one.i dont think it would go under 4' of sidewalk. you might also try phalaris pictus- ribbon grass- variega. too but taller(makes more of a statement) and easier to eradicate if necessary. dayilies can also handle the road salt.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2006 at 1:20AM
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We have bishop's weed planted between our driveway and our house, surrounded on all sides by concrete, so it won't spread. It looks great and fills up an otherwise boring spot with a bit of interesting looking foliage.

Here is a link that might be useful: Bishop's weed

    Bookmark   May 3, 2006 at 1:08AM
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whitegarden(Z5 MA)

I have to laugh. I have actually been trying to get this plant to take off under my huge pine trees in the front of my house to no avail over the past three years. Now that I have read all your posts I am considering pulling it out. I do like the variegated foliage though.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2006 at 7:37AM
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ellen_s(z5 centralMA)

Just a word of warning about the variegated Bishops Weed...they reseed themselves like crazy and the seedlings revert to the species "green" variety...which is even more difficult to eradicate!

I have been trying to remove Bishops Weed from our current property (it was planted here years ago, the previous owner tried everything to remove it and gave up, and it then completely took over a huge shrub/perennial border and choked everything out). I am still pulling bits of it out here and there and probably will be for life :-(

    Bookmark   May 3, 2006 at 7:49AM
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Cady(6b/Sunset34 MA)

A reminder - Aegopodium is on the new list of prohibited plants in Mass. I believe that as of January 1, 2006, the importation (from out of state or U.S.) and propagation of it is prohibited, as is its sale, purchase and trade.

It is legal to have it if it's already in your garden, we just can't buy, sell or trade it anymore.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2006 at 10:22AM
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I have been doing battle with bishop's weed for the past 5 years. We bought a house where it had been used extensively as a foundation planting. My first attempt was to meticulously dig it out of a shade garden. I thought I got it all, even removed the soil from the roots of any plants worth keeping to clean them. By the following summer, it was back with a vengence, apparently enjoying its newly-tilled home. So, against my better judgement, I bought some round-up, even though i swore I'd never use it. It killed every other plant in the bed beautifully. So i, like you, thought I should just make my peace with it, but as yet haven't found any other plants that can compete. Next summer, I think I'll put the house on the market

    Bookmark   May 7, 2006 at 8:45PM
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I have not laughed so hard and loud while I was reading this thread. Because I have been through all that you all have been talking about with this beautiful plant/weed. Yes, I was warned. I thought that I could keep it under control, until it flowered and went to seed, that is when I found out I had not been warned well enough. When I was working as a landscaper we use to mow this plant down which kept it low and beautiful, but I had such a small area, I thought that it was contained. HA HA HA. This year I decided that some sacrifices had to be made in the flower beds. Many great plants were lost but not the Bishop's weed, its made a strong come back. I have mixed a stronger concentration of roundup this time, when the roundup runs out I'll be using vinegar considering how much roundup cost I could go broke trying to get rid of this weed.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2006 at 11:22AM
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