Here in Denmark, we know this as Skvalderkål (Aegopodium podagraria), but you may know it as Bishop’s Weed, Ground Elder, or Goutweed. I used to know it as the absolute bane of my existence.
A member of the Elder family (Sambucus), and Native to Eurasia, it has been introduced as an ornamental all over the world, and thrives in the temperate regions, where it is regarded as invasive.
It forms clonal patches via it’s roots, and colonises an area quickly, shading out and strangling the root systems of other plants.
Now, I am going to help you control the growth and spread of Ground Elder.
By the springtime, the energy reserves of the root system have been largely used up by the emerging new growth: this is the perfect time to pick the young green leaves and use them as a nutritious, free food source.
They make a wicked pesto.
You can go out and harvest a huge number of these leaves, and thus starve the patches for energy, getting yourself a huge quantity of nutritious food in the process.
“Nordic Pesto,” as I make it, consists of:
- 60% Ground Elder leaves (by weight when dry)
- 20% Hazelnuts (by weight when dry)
- 20% Parmesan (by weight when dry)
- Lemon juice to taste
- Basil leaves to taste
- Salt to taste
- Garlic or onion to taste
- Olive oil (enough to cover the ingredients once they are ground up)
Basically grind up the dry ingredients in a blender or food processor, and cover with olive oil.
The best time to make this is in the spring, when the shoots are at their youngest and most nutritious. You can adjust the recipe to your harvest, and freeze individual portions of the resulting pesto in a muffin tray, and have it ready to go whenever you need it.
If you have gout or arthritis, historically this plant has been used as a poultice in the treatment of joint conditions, hence the moniker “Goutweed.”
So go out there en masse, and make wild pesto and arthritis wraps, all the while helping to minimise the ecological impact of an invasive species!