Ground Elder



COMMON NAME : Ground elder. Bishopsweed, Herb Gerard

FAMILY  :         Apiaceae  (Carrot family)


Found  in wet woodland, river banks, hedges, gardens, often a persistent garden weed.

PARTS USED :  Herb and root.


Originally used as a pot herb and gained its reputation as a gout herb from monasteries in the Middle Ages. It is diuretic but any action on blood uric acid levels has not been validated.

The root and leaf may be used in a salad in spring (but not later) or the leaf taken as a tisane. Sometimes the

young leaves are lightly cooked like spinach but they’re a bit hard on the palate. Ground elder used to be eaten

as a green vegetable in Sweden and Switzerland. May be mashed up and applied as a poultice to painful hips

and knees.

Called Bishopsweed because it was so frequently found near old ecclesiastical ruins. Said to have been

introduced by the monks of the Middle Ages who cultivated it as a herb of healing. Once called Herb Gerard

because it was dedicated to St Gerard who was formerly invoked to cure gout.

The herb is sedative as well as diuretic. It can be successfully used internally for aches in the joints, gouty and

sciatic pains and externally as a formentation for inflamed parts.

The roots and leaves boiled together, applied to the hip and occasionally renewed have a wonderful effect in

some cases of sciatica.