The Virtues of Bishop’s Weeds

Right now, if you listen closely, you can hear the sounds of experienced gardeners cocking guns and grabbing implements of torture. They are saying “Hanna, them’s fightin’ words.”

This is because Bishop’s Weed (also known as Goutweed) is one of the most insidious plants that a gardener can plant in their garden. But before you string me up from the nearest tree, let me explain the virtues of this much hated plant.

But first the disclaimer…

DISCLAIMER: If you are ever offered this plant, run, do not walk, run quickly from the area before you are talked into taking some home.

Bishop’s Weed is an avid gardener’s worst nightmare. Worse yet, it is sold in garden centers and big box stores with no warning label. Really, before they are allowed to take this stuff home, people should be required to sign iron-clad contracts that requires them never to pass this plant along.

So why do garden centers and big box stores still sell it. Well, because people buy it and those places are all about making a buck. But beyond that, Bishop’s Weed does serve a purpose in the landscape world.

This is where the virtues of Bishop’s Weed comes in. Bishop’s Weed should only be used in areas where there will not be someone to garden. For example, my current guerrilla gardening project, the woman who takes care of the place told me that she purposely planted Bishop’s Weed because she hoped that it would keep down the weeds while still looking nice. Where the Bishop’s Weed is growing, it does just that.

If you have a Great Aunt Helga who just can’t get out in the yard, Bishop’s Weed is a great solution. It will choke out anything including weeds and yet does not seem to grow into the lawn turf. It also grows relatively low to the ground so does not need to be cut.

Basically, Bishop’s Weed is ideal for locations that need to be kept neat but where no one will have the time to weed and maintain. Public locations, elderly or infirmed peoples’ gardens or hard to get to locations.

And you can eat it. It is a Russian food crop and apparently an Indian aphrodisiac. Anything that is an aphrodisiac can’t be all bad.

76 thoughts on “The Virtues of Bishop’s Weeds
  1. It should be noted here that Bishop’s weed is also known to help psoriasis. This plant has medicinal purposes and it would seem by my web search that it gets a “bum rap” from many sites, except yours. The leaves can made into a compress or however you would like to prepare it and placed on psoriasis patches. It is best combined with sun expose to get the most of its medicinal purpose. The active ingredient is psoralens which is also found in its “cousins” carrots, parsley, angelica, celery and others.

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    j. Reply:

    do you know if bishop’s weed can be made into a tea or injested in some way – since i read that there was significant improvement using ultraviolet light & injesting the active chemical…

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    janet Reply:

    Bishops weed can be eaten…cooked. We have used it in soups and it’s quite tasty. It was used extensively in Germany during the second world war as much of it grew in the forests. It’s German name is “giersch”. Apparently it kept lots of people alive. I wouldn’t plant it for that reason though. And I’m not sure about the variegated kind. We have only eaten the non-variegated type. And by the way, I have enormous amounts of this pesky weed in my garden. For me what worked was to solerize (black plastic on top of) it, for 2 summers. I still have a bit of it as some escaped the black plastic. But it is way more under control now.

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    N. Reply:

    You can buy seeds of it – sometimes called ‘ajwain seeds’ – you can mostly find them in small indian/pakistani stores but some larger supermarkets (in the uk at least) have them too. if i have bad bloating or indigestion – i put about a teaspoon of them in my mouth and swallow with water – works a treat – (meaning it makes you burp and fart – not nice but relieving!) Im not so keen on the taste (it’s fine though) – but if you like it you can chew them or cook with them too.

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  2. Debra on

    My mom lives in Idaho and had this all around her trees and up against her house. I loved it so I bought some. I completely disagree with everyone who hates this plant. It has been wonderful as a ground cover and has stayed right where I put it. I cut the flowers off as they grow and every year it comes back lovely and green and covers up the bare ugly ground and keeps the weeds out! I absolutely hate to work in the yard or garden, so this plant is wonderful for those of us who just want something to look pretty with minimal care needed and don’t want to hassel with growing, pulling weeds, watering, fertilizing, or caring about our yards. Yes, there are some of us out there!

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  3. JANE C., Springboro, OH on

    I loved having this plant in a former Virginia house, and now I am in Ohio and searching for it, but to no avail. It will be perfect in my shady backyard, and it’s variegated quality will lighten up the ground. Anyone know where I can buy it?

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    Judy Arnett Reply:

    I have a lot of it. I don’t hate it because I like the Queen Ann’s Lace-type flowers, but it is an aggressive grower. I have some for trade, if you want. I also have lots of Black-Eyed Susans (Rudbeckia Hirta), Oregano (Origanum vulgare, another aggressive grower), Lamb’s Ears (Stachys lanata), Bugle (Ajuga reptans), Therese Bugnet rose plants, Chinese Chives (Allium tuberosum) and perennial Ageratum (Conoclinium coelestinum). I’m looking for peonies, daylilies, irises (especially any Dutch irises)

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    deb Reply:

    JUNG SEEDS has it.

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  4. Joan on

    Jane you are welcome to come to Illinois where I live and help yourself to all of the bishop weed that you want! I carried some of this “weed” home from my daughter’s garden…..it has jumped and spread everywhere, I have given up trying to rid my garden of it. I maintain it to the best of my ability, actually as I thin it out from the landscape it adds interest to the garden, but if left on it’s own it will invade the entire garden. May suggestion is don’t even think of this feature in you planting scheme.

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  5. Pingback: 10 Plants You Should Never Buy (Because I Guarantee Someone Will Just Give Them To You)

  6. elaine on

    Please help with a problem that I ALWAYS experience with “Snow on the Mountain”, aka Bishop’s weed. It looks absolutely lovely in the late spring and early summer here in northern Illinois where I live, but in the early autumn, parts of it begin to look brown and “rusty”. I can’t stand this look, and would like to know how to prevent it. Of course, I can cut it back, but still, it would help to know how to control this problem.

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  7. Pingback: Discovering Bishops Weed « Hilltown Families

  8. rochelle on

    Let me know what you find out about the brown and dead look it gets around this time. I hate it as well. What can I do?

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  9. Donna Browder on

    Thanks for the information on Bishops weed. It looked beautiful growing against my mother-in-law’s house (part shade) so I brought pots of it to my new house. We planed to sell these pots at a fund raiser, but now I am reconsidering. I certainly don’t want to sell a problem plant. I’m just curious as to why it stayed so contained at her house. She had hostas growing up in it and it was lovely–airy and light.

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  10. Big George on

    Bishop’s weed is a pest plain and simple. My entire neighborhood is cursed with it because one foolish soul planted in their garden years ago. It crept under a fence into my yard and we’ve been fighting it ever since. Nothing kills it. Really. (One neighbor claims that if brush Roundup ON EVERY SINGLE LEAF you might be able to knock it back!!!) I’m resigned to it but my wife insists on spending hundreds of dollars a year to yard care folks to keep it in check. Despite what advocates claim, it will invade sparse grassy areas that are in deep shade.

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  11. carolyn on

    This weed was in a beautiful floral arrangement given to me as a gift. It has now spread everywhere and I wonder if the person who gave it to me was really a “friend.” It has crowded out all the naturals in my woodland property. It seems the only way to adjust is to have a change of attitude and grow to like it. Has anyone had any luck irradicating it?

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  12. Jaykay on

    I also have the dreaded Bishops Weed in my veggie garden…I hate it with a passion as it creeps into my planting area. I would very much like to eradicate this weed from this area and would like to do it without harsh chemicals (round-up). I’m thinking of a weed torch. Does anyone have experience getting rid of this plant from their garden using a weed torch or any other method??

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    Holly Reply:

    I tried a weed torch and roundup to no avail. I have been fighting this plant since 1977. It wins.

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    Shelley Reply:

    If you want to get rid of your Bishop’s Weed, plant Creeping Myrtle with it. :)

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    Mary Crull Reply:

    Burning Bishops Weed with a weed torch will give off toxic fumes that are very damaging to your lungs per my local nursery, Pesche’s in Des Plaines IL

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  13. Hanna on

    If it is in your veggie bed, I would say solarize the bed before you plant, or if that will take too long, before you plants, pour buckets and buckets of boiling water over the soil. The boiling water will kill anything growing in the soil, including the bishop’s weed.

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  14. Jaykay on

    Yesterday after I wrote on this post, I came across advice on using boiling water to eradicate weeds. Because the area in which I have the bishops weed is large, I will use a combination of solarizing (again…I did this last year), boiling water and just digging the young plants up. Hopefully with much persistence I can finally get some control of it. And on a more positive note, this plant is good for digestive problems, ie: belching…just in case I get a bout of this while in the garden, I will know where to turn!?
    Thank you for the advice Hanna.

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  15. Lorelei on

    I was happy to find some Bishops Weed today at a garden center that is adjacent to the owner’s home. I asked her about it, and she had some in her yard and was happy to dig some up and give it to me (no surprise there). I loved having it in my previous home, and have a large dirt area around some evergreens on my new farm. I love the look for Bishops Weed, the variegated leaf and low cover is my favorite. I suffer from a black thumb (I kill everything) so I love that the only way I have killed this is by not ever watering it (in a small side section at my old house I managed to kill some!). Thanks for the objective advice about this weed that I really enjoy.

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  16. Kiana on

    I have a couple of areas with Bishop’s weed and I really like it. But it is in an area that I would now like to plant a hydrangea. I’ve read postings here where it grown under trees . . .would it kill off a plant like a hydrangea? Help please

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    Paula Moore Reply:

    I have Bishop’s Weed growing around my hydrangeo with no problems (for 5 years). Of course I am that old lady that can no longer weed my flower garden.

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  17. Lorelei on

    I planted several plants in and around the Bishop’s Weed that I had at my old house. I put in some pyramidalis (sp?), ferns and annuals in front of it. It didn’t kill off anything. Perhaps just clear back the Bishop’s Weed around where you are planting until the hydrangea is established. Good luck!

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    Susan Reply:

    I tried holding this weed back using coneflowers, but now it has ensnarled the root systems of the coneflowers and growing over top of it, heading right for my ferns and other perennials. it’s a complete nightmare!! it’s coming in under my neighbors fence on both sides of my garden.

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  18. Kathy Barnes on

    I am SO glad I read this!! Just a few days ago, I was admiring some Bishop’s Weed in a garden center and had decided that this was the groundcover I wanted to plant along the side of the house where nothing but quack grass will grow. Thank you, Hanna, for rescuing me from gardening disaster!

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  19. pat on

    Will bishop weed kill young pine trees if it is planted under them? Will it absorb all its water and choke out the pine roots?

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  20. Charlie on

    I brought it to my new house by accident in transplants from my father’s house. It was nice in an area where nothing else would grow but as I started tending more and better gardens I wanted it GONE. I was able to almost completely get rid of it by digging every last bit of root. but it must have already migrated under the fence because now it is coming back a lttle at a time – I just have to keep after it and try to keep it in check. It does have it’s uses as a ground cover where you will not have other plants. IT will choke out almost all other weeds.

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  21. I’m in Nova Scotia, and on a mission to eradicate the goutweed that’s taking over the yard at my new home … although we’ve spent hours on digging out the flower bed at the side of the house, we’re not near the end … or the beginning of the end. It still feels like we’re at the beginning of the beginning. This is going to be a fight.

    I’m going to take on the back half of the yard with a weed whacker tonight … and blast the hell out of it with Roundup when it comes back.

    And, for the record, my first idea for handling it was “cover it with gas and set it on fire” … but, sadly, we’re not even allowed backyard bonfires in my neighbourhood.

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    Susan Reply:

    I did find that slinging boiling water onto the roots work. It’s almost as fun as burning it, thinking of them scalding to death. :)

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  22. My mother always had “snow on the mountain” or Bishop’s Weed in our garden with plenty of other plants growing through it. We had mostly bulbs that would come up: tulips, daffodils and crocus plants that would bloom up through. The Bishop’s weed was contained to an area of garden that was “pavement bound” – a border garden between our neighbor’s driveway and our own. This worked great since the roots couldn’t spread past the asphalt. I’ve since grown up and bought my own house. There is a large patch of dirt, with nothing growing in it, between my driveway and my neighbor’s house. I’ve planted some Bishops Weed because I don’t want to fuss with the 3-foot wide strip of dirt, and I want something that will maintain itself without a lot of work. I think this plant does certainly have some virtues if you’re prepared to carefully consider where you plant it.

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    Dill Reply:

    As a ground cover in spots otherwise uncoverable, ok. I always thought it looked ok until I had it. The homeowner who had my house before me had clearly just planted it before decamping with my millions. I looked on it benignly at first–there was nothing to look at otherwise–juniper on one side, bishop’s weed on the other. But now that I have tried to have flowers, well…. Bishop’s weed is perhaps best thought of as a very slow wave, or a tide, that will eventually inundate everything that can’t stop it, like a paved road. The roots are so deep and pliable and resistant…. In response to Anne, I find that it does choke out daffodils and tulips and the like, hyacinths, etc. It would depend on your conditions, but as other posters have noted, you just can’t bet against this plant. I don’t think there’s anything it won’t overtake.

    I’m sorry I don’t know any protocol…has anyone reading this ever easily transplanted peonies, or early wild rose (rosa blanda), or just knows how and when to _prune_ early wild rose bushes. . . .? Send me a nasty note if I’ve done something wrong or not read all the rules in advance enough, or just erase this post.

    Good luck to all.
    Dww

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  23. E. Ray Heflin on

    I have a steep bank in front of my house at roads edge that is too steep to mow and hard to stand on to weed-eat. It is south facing and shaded by trees from about 2:00 PM until dark. Am looking for something to plant that will kill out and replace the grass. Will Bishop’s Weed do this. Also, will mowing keep it from spreading onto the flatter area of lawn?………thanks

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    Richard Reply:

    Hello, I was reading online where you wrote about a southern facing bank that was too steep to mow and were looking for a plant to plant on it. You were looking at Bishops Weed at that time. What did you end up planting at that location? and how did it do? You originally wrote your request in August of 2009.

    Thanks,
    Richard in NC

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  24. Stuart on

    HI
    I have been fighting for the last 3 years with Field Bind Weed. The best method (including chemicals) that I have found for fighting it is old carpeting that people are throwing away. I spread it over the patch to be weeded in the spring, and leave it on all summer; the plants try to grow under it, but with no light, they all eventually die off. It should work for Bishop’s weed as well. And no chemicals. One word of warning; not all carpets completely block the light. If the plants are still green under the carpet after 3 weeks, find another one.

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  25. I am not a fan of chemicals in my garden. I try to use ways that will work without them. Doing it shovel by shovel will work, but alot of work. The carpet idea is good but I have a foolproof way. Use cardboard. No light will pass through it. Use double thick if you want. I had thistle and used this and it worked. You can also use the fabric garden cloth, but you have to make it about 4 or 5 times thick. Don’t mess around, use cardboard but you have to wait the entire season. Oh ,one more thing if you have plants in the garden already transplant into pots or place the cardbord around them.

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  26. Kathleen on

    When I moved into my house almost 14 years ago, there was Goutweed in the front garden bed – about a 3′ X 4′ patch. I don’t like to use chemicals of any kind as I’ve always had a dog and my neighbour has outdoor cats. I am happy to say that after 12 years of digging it up and removing all visible traces of the white roots (it will sprout again quickly from the tiniest of pieces, and the roots go quite deep), I only had a handful of spots left last spring! Maybe this spring (which will make 14 years in the house, 13 of trying to get rid of the Goutweed) I will only have one or two sprouts to dig up! I did find that in the past few years I had to get into the bed early in the spring to remove the roots, and this seemed to work much better than waiting until on in the season. Basically as soon as you see shoots, dig up the roots! (Not poetic on purpose…) That said, this discussion has reminded me of how ‘hearty’ it is, so if there are a few bits in the front this spring, I may transplant them to the back – I now have two dogs who have demolished my backyard grass by chasing each other for hours a day, so maybe Goutweed in the back will make me love this plant that I’ve hated for so many years!

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  27. Hoogie on

    Even after reading all the comments from people who hate Bishop’s Weed, I am still planning to get some. Grass will not grow in my backyard because it is so shady, and therefore, it is not a pretty place. We also do not have pets or young children that ever go in the backyard. My only problem is that I can’t find anyone locally that sells it :( Anyone want to share? I’ll be happy to pay all shipping costs!

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    Debra Reply:

    Hoogie, I live in Oregon and we can get Bishop’s weed at the local yard and garden stores….not Wal-Mart or stores that sell all sorts of other things, but just our local garden shops etc. When I bought it back in 2006 (I think) it was plentiful and cheap. If you can find anyone in your area who has some just dig a few of the leaves out with the roots attached and plant them. I guarantee that they will reproduce rapidly….if not in one year season, then two. I LOVE my Bishop’s weed still because of our shade and wet ground. It keeps out weeds (and anything else) and I am happy not to have to grow anything or take much care of it. It does “burn” in really hot weather, tho. It also dies in the fall and returns in the spring. I am joyously watching it come up right now! If you live near Salem, Oregon you can come and get some of mine! Good luck!

    Also, to E. Ray Heflin….mowing does not really stop this plant from spreading. It will spread right through grass. Mowing can help, but not much. Keep it contained with long wood poles, plastic borders, cement borders, etc. My mom has kept it contained around the base of her trees and her house foundation for 20 years using redwood poles. Also, cutting the flower stalks off AS SOON as they appear helps to contain it too. (I think it is a much prettier groundcover without all the long flower stalks that stick up out of it.) Don’t let them bloom and pollinate the ground around it. Hope this helps.

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  28. I bought some of this at a nursery last year not knowing what it was. It started scaring me this morning with how it sends runners every which way. I will be pulling it out tomorrow. Hopefully I caught it soon enough!

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  29. kristin masters on

    I am a bishop’s weed lover. I have had it in various yards and have found it makes a beautiful ground cover. It takes a lot of work to keep it where one wants it, but my passion (obsession) is weeding, so bishop’s weed and I were meant for each other. I have not found the carpet/cardboard method of eradication effective, because the roots are so deep that they just move on out beyond the barrier to sprout elsewhere. Kathleen’s method is mine: get out there early and dig deep! For the period of time after blooming, when the leaves get rusty, just mow or weed-whack it all down to the ground. It will blossom again, rust again, and you can mow it down a second time and still get a third blossoming. The leaves come back that lovely spring green. This process would weary some plants but, as we all know, nothing wearies bishop’s weed!

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  30. stacey on

    I live in the Pacific Northwest and Bishop’s Weed is an incorrigible problem. I have seen the variegated type sold in local shops and my fence neighbour planted some that is (of course) crawling through. (This is just after they finally removed an incredibly aggressive kiwi vine from the same spot! I do notice that the variegated type is not quite as aggressive as the solid green that seems to run rampant otherwise.

    A good tip for our neck of the woods is to keep mulching frequently. It won’t necessarily stop the weed but a looser soil makes it much easier to pull out roots. Also, planting hyacinth bulbs or plants like wooly woodruff, that leaf out early, can shade the spring soil so the little buggers don’t get quite the same head start they would have.

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  31. Kyle on

    Bishop’s weed is a great groundcover if used correctly. We have some well-established lilac bushes that shade the back of our yard, and the Bishop’s Weed has filled in beneath it, along with some purple iris’ and makes the back of the yard “forest-like”.

    Never had an issue with the Bishop’s weed trying to get into the yard or anywhere else.

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  32. Jen on

    I just moved into our first house three weeks ago, and I’m so excited to get my hands back into the dirt. I was so excited at first to see the Bishop’s Weed. It looks so lovely against the red corabells. (I think that’s what they are.) Now as it’s gotten taller and busier, I can see that it’s crowding out my autumn joy sedum, bee balm and other perennials. I’m already predicting that this is going to be the bane of my gardening life!!!

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  33. Linda on

    I have a third generation planting of Bishop’s Weed. My Grandmother planted it along the “cellar” walls, my mother transplanted some around her front porch, and now I have her transplants along one foundation wall of my home. I had no idea this lovely plant was considered a horrible scourge !! Our summers here can be hot and dry and the leaves will “rust” over. I was looking for info on trimming it back and I found some very helpful tips here. I have had no problems with this plant invading any other spaces.

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  34. My cottage garden in Ohio on

    DONT PLANT IT! I would NEVER purchase another home if it had Bishop’s weed. We recently moved into our new home only to find that this lovely varigated leafy plant is unstoppable and if you simply adore true flowers, it will prevent you from gardening. I pulled it out(and got a rash from doing so w/out gloves)and by the next morning it was back. I ended up having some success with cutting all flower heads off, digging below the root line and removing each and every little root by hand over several days. I then laid in in the driveway to completely dry out and die before placing in with yard clippings for removal(didnt want to spread this pest into my neighbors yards). Several days of non stop vigilence and very hard work and it is almost gone. Sadly, it has spread to another area of the yard and I will have to work on it next. It will spread and it will choke out your flowers~ it is also considered an invasive, non~native pest and shouldnt be sold in garden centers. If you want some-and live in Ohio-you can take all you want from my house. Just be sure you arent friendly with your neighbors first or you may become enemies….

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  35. Pam on

    Thanks for all the eradication advice. It *does* travel under pavement given time. No good neighbor plants this evil weed. I curse the former owner of our house for the time I’ve wasted on this stupid ornamental that she thought would control weeds in the rhubarb. Hah! It provides cover for thistles, the morning glories, swedish ivy, regular ivy, ornamental strawberries (another ridifulous plant). It’s roots have penetrated through the rhubarb stock, such that to remove it is to kill the rhubarb. And now it has invaded the sunny patch of grass I have in Pennsylvania. You want low maintenance ground cover… I suggest weedbarrier and rocks. I will not buy a house with this stuff or in the neighbors’ yards again.

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  36. Gordon Polson on

    It seems to me that Bishops Weed should be placed on a national noxious weed list and should be outlawed.
    I worked in Montana a couple of years ago and rented a lovely house adjacent to Flathead Lake for three months. The entire front garden, including the lawn, was infested with the stuff, which had migrated from the garden next door and had traveled across their lawn, through a long lilac hedge, through a flower bed, lawn, under a concrete path and was ramping on across another stretch of lawn to the house next door. I spent most of my ‘leisure’ time there trying to get rid of the stuff. The only success I had was with the rockery, which I had to dismantle and dig down about two feet to get to the roots. I also used almost four gallons of RoundUp in a desperate attempt to control it (‘Doesn’t work!)
    In England the non-variegated stuff is everywhere and is a listed weed – you are legally required to try & get rid of it.
    Going back about 40 years there, the only recommended treatment was to plant Tagetes Minuta fairly thickly. This plant (named for the diminutive flowers rather than the height of the plant) secretes an exudate from the roots which attacks the Ground Elder roots and kills the plant. If you dig up the roots afterwards, the roots are still there but they are hollow and very dead.
    I am lucky enough in Washington State, that I do not have any of this scourge around, so I haven’t bothered to research it. But just this morning I had a cri de couer from an old friend about it, so here we go again. I was originally able to purchase seed of Tagetes Minuta from Chiltern Seeds in England, although I don’t know if they still carry it. I will have to Google it. Good Luck out there.

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  37. I decided to do a quick search, and learn about this mysterious plant that lurks in my side yard. I’ve been more curious about it ever since last year, when I learned that it is also called “Bishop’s weed” (I grew up always hearing it called “snow-on-the-mountain”).
    First, I have to wonder if my mother’s like/love of this plant influenced my attitude towards it. I have never had any aversion to it. Secondly, it seems to be not unlike cats – if you hate it, you can’t get rid of it; if you like it, you won’t have problems with it and it doesn’t seem to exhibit any of the “annoying” behaviors that its prosecutors experience.
    My own experience is that there was some in the yard when I was growing up, but more recently, when I bought my house nearly 9 years ago, it occupied the side yard. Now, what I’ve got is the variegated type, and the side yard is quite shaded. When I bought the house, the previous owners hadn’t done any maintenance or weeding for a year or two; it’s been a long road learning what things I like and don’t like – and this is a far more major factor in determining “weeds”, I think. Dandelions are considered weeds, but I love them. Creeping Charlie is sometimes considered a weed, sometimes considered a “useful ground cover” – though while the flowers are pretty for all of a week, I hate the stuff and can’t get rid of it (and it’s toxic to boot).
    For me, I like the looks Snow-on-the-mountain gives the side yard – it is mixed there with violet clusters, and I did notice that the side yard – unique among my property, what there is of it – is blissfully weed-free. The Snow-on-the-mountain does not move beyond the shaded area, so it stays controlled. The violets keep it at bay on one side, and the sun keeps it at bay on the other. I’m lucky to like this plant, because I refuse to use chemicals in my yard – especially since so many plants are edible (Snow-on-the-mountain included, apparently!). In my experience, it has never spread past its patch; Creeping Charlie, on the other hand, I can’t keep away no matter how much I yank up – it will still come in from my neighbors on both sides.
    I live in Minnesota, where a lot of things *aren’t* perennials, and it’s nice to have a pretty, shade-loving, near-indestructible plant that I know will come back, no matter how trampled it gets in a given summer.
    For those of you who like it, and don’t know what to do about the brown look it gets in autumn: my best suggestion – newbie that I am to the world of gardening – is find another plant that can co-exist with it without being consumed by it, that maintains a nice look in autumn. (I know, not many plants are up to that task.)

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  38. Thank you for such a thoughtful expression of my own feelings about Snow-on-the-Mountain/Bishops Weed. I, too, have a mother who loves the plant and that may have influenced my love for it also. I have it in two places in my yard, and although it has escaped its confines a couple of times, I only have to mow it down a bit and pull up a bit more to control it. I also cut off the flower heads as soon as they pop up to keep it from growing too much. The sun does burn it by the end of the summer, but again, mowing it down usually helps it to grow back lovely again. My mom called it Bishops Weed so that is how I know it, but I really like the name of Snow-on-the-Mountain so much better as it sounds beautiful and doesn’t sound like a nuisance like Bishops “Weed”! I am glad there are a few of us in the country who like this plant. I completely agree that if you like it, it seems to like you and remain controlled! Funny, but seems to be a fact. ;-) In my backyard it is mixed with Venca (maybe what you call creeping Charlie?) and they seem to control each other. I don’t like gardening or being out working in the yard….mowing is a BIG chore to me, so I love a yard that takes care of itself with VERY little help from me. My Bishops Weed is perfect for that! I think those who hate it so much are those who garden and have lots of other less hardy plants. I can sympathize with them when BW takes over, but for those of use who use all our spare time for other things not related to gardening…it is lovely! (By the way, I am sure this makes me weird, not liking to garden….but I am used to being weird…..I also love winter cold, rain, snow, and cloudy days. Dislike summer and heat terribly.) Thanks again for writing my thoughts.

    [Reply]

  39. Mandy on

    In regard to Bishop’s weed’s use as an Indian aphrodisiac, I saw it mentioned in a recipe and got all excited at the prospect of eating my enemy, but a little research revealed that the Bishop’s weed known as ajwain in Indian cooking is a different plant. Too bad.

    Bishop’s weed first appeared in my yard about twelve years ago and I fought it feebly by pulling where I saw it. Then I had my fourth child in late June of 2001, and between being pregnant and back-achey and then too busy with a newborn plus three others, I ignored my yard all season. Bishop’s weed and wild raspberries ran rampant and actually killed a very healthy, well-established patch of juniper ground cover. Last spring, I dug up the area to about 18″ and sifted every bit of soil to remove all the tiny white bits of root, then planted it pretty densely with flowers and vegetables, and mulched with three inches of municipal compost. I can see a few sets of Bishop’s weed leaves poking through the ground now, but if I get out there with my spading fork today, I think I can keep it from getting a foothold. To me, this plant is the bedbug of the vegetable kingdom. Before you plant it, do you really want to have to burn the place down to get rid of it?

    [Reply]

  40. mohammed on

    What is Ajwain?
    Ajwain is a herb also known as Bishops Weed. This beneficial herb is used in culinary process as spice as well as a major ingredient of different kind of medicines. Ajwain seeds are small in size but taste hot, penchant and bitter. It acts as good appetizer, laxative and stomachic. It is used as effective remedy in managing ailments like vomiting, mouth diseases, pile, treatment of ascites, abdominal tumor, abdominal pain etc.

    Text Removed. Sorry, not allowed to wholesale copy from other sites. That’s called copyright infringments.

    [Reply]

    Mohammed Reply:

    how can there be a copyright on factual knowledge…?

    [Reply]

    Hanna Reply:

    The knowledge is not copywritten but the words used to write that knowledge are. They are protected by law:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_Millennium_Copyright_Act

    You can take the knowledge from that article and rewrite it in your own words, but it should not be copied word for word without permission from the owner.

    [Reply]

  41. Pingback: Plants For Dry Shade, Dry Shade Plants, Willamette Valley

  42. My sister had Bishop’s weed all along her house in Wyoming and I loved the look of it. She never had to do anything with it and it never took over. I was thrilled when I found it. I have a very large backyard and with knee and back problems now – I cannot do the required weeding. Putting in Bishops weed has solved the problem. I love the look and it it gets to close to some of my shrubs I just use a scuffle stirrup hoe to pull it out. Yes it will come back but I can do that amount of weeding with little effort. I always felt bad reading how so many people hate this plant because I just love it!

    [Reply]

  43. Pingback: It’s All About The Money (Garden)

  44. I think the main problem with Bishops Weed is that it HAS to be planted alone. It just does not play well with others!

    [Reply]

  45. vera on

    I agree with Rooke and Debra. I have had “Snow on the Mountain” for several years in my last two homes. It has never migrated outside the brick borders and it has never destroyed other perennials like peonies and small ornamental trees. It looks beautiful to me every spring and summer and I welcome it. We used to spend tons of money on mulch, not to mention the work involved every spring when the mulch needs to be re-done. Also, mulch never does stop weeds, it seems to encourage them here in Indiana. So for contained plots of ground where I don’t want to weed or plant, it’s perfect. I plan to put more BW in a bed down by the lake where the weeding has just gotten too much for us.

    [Reply]

  46. Christa on

    I myself don’t have any Bishops weed, but My mother had the varigated kind….I don’t remember her having any problems with it, buit I think it was hemmed in with concrete and railroad ties. My grandparents also had it ( that is where my mom got hers) Now I know why Grandpa called it not Snow on the Mountain, not Bishops Weed, but Devils Weed. “It spreads like the devil”

    [Reply]

  47. Susan on

    I bought my first house last spring, and the backyard is paved with a 10 foot border of garden on three sides with a privacy fence along two sides and my house on the third. I was so excited as the garden was practically bare, just a few hostas, fern, and this “pretty green groundcover” in one corner. As I was shopping for new perennials to start my garden, I tried to keep an eye out for this groundcover so I knew what it was. I never found it at the nurseries…

    We had an early spring, and that groundcover came up by February.. I’m in Michigan. Soon, it had spread over 2 feet on each side and was crawling over top of my perennials. I started to get a bad feeling that it may be weed, and sure enough, it is bishops weed. I feel sick about it. It’s creeping along my house and heading down along the fence, soon to swallow my hostas. Worse, at the far end of the bed, I’m seeing it creep in from under my fence. Turns out my neighbor has it.

    This is war.

    [Reply]

  48. Ann on

    I have a formerly-wild area next to my driveway where I purposely introduced Bishop’s Weed probably 6 years ago. I find it easily controllable there – I just yank it when it goes into areas where I don’t want it. It spreads quickly – which for me is a bonus – is quite lovely, and provides a perfect contrast against my evergreen yews. It has been a perfect solution while I wait for my preferred groundcover – vinca minor – to establish and spread. Once that’s in place I intend to pull most of the Bishop’s Weed out. Having already prevailed numerous times against wild raspberries in several areas – through sheer persistence – I fully expect to have the same result here. I may be naive, but I firmly believe no plant can stand up to a determined gardener with good gloves. :)

    [Reply]

    Leigh Field Reply:

    Bishops weed was growing along one side of my new home in 1996. It appeared lovely and harmless. BEWARE, it has invaded my vegetable garden, much of my lawn, around the edge of my 2 acres of mowed property and is trying to take over all flower gardens. It now crawls down a culvert and is heading for a field, but will have to cross a small brook. I am sure it must swim and fly and do whatever it has to do to continue it’s path of destruction. The roots are wicked and tangled, very difficult to eradicate, and always comes back, in full force and then some, no matter my endless efforts. Because it is now in the lawn I am thinking of dynamite!

    [Reply]

  49. Trish on

    We have this stuff and hate the mid summer rusty look. I give it a major haircut, which looks bad for a short while but “fresh”, smaller leaves do come up fast.
    But it hasn’t spread into the lawn (maybe all the creeping charlie has kept it in check :/)
    I pulled alot out and it seemed to work when I replaced it with bugleweed. Perhaps I simply replaced one menace with another? I like the bugleweed better because it is so low growing where the bugleweed was a foot tall; IT, however has spread out of the garden into the yard. Both seem to allow other plants to grow up through but these both prove that we need to be careful about what seems, at first, like a timesaver.

    [Reply]

    Trish Reply:

    …sorry about last post error: I meant the bugleweed is low growing whereas the BISHOPS weed is a foot tall…

    [Reply]

  50. is there any thing that will stop the brown rusty spots that comes on my biships weeds plants

    [Reply]

  51. Is there any thing that will stop the brown rusty spots that come on this plant?

    [Reply]

    charlie Reply:

    No. The browning of the plant is just part of its lifecycle. I weedwhack them down whben they get like that.

    Ck

    [Reply]

  52. JennT on

    Pure Evil! Twenty years of trying to control this beast from taking over in different beds throughout my small yard! The root system is insane and I get insane every time I attack it–its WAR every time and, though my hours of diligence keep it thinned it always manages to come back! Even the littlest of roots than you miss reproduce! I’ve never heard of the boiling water but like the idea! Its taken over my lily of the valley experimental garden, squeezed out hostas and irises and keeps trying to creep into my ‘lawn!” which is mostly other weeds but I can control those (dandelions and broad weeds) with a weed-puller tool. Its definately easier to work it out if you can rake the area with a deep three-pronged rake to loosen up the roots and thick flower base but its only ever temporary! Maybe if it wasn’t such a smal yard and garden to begin with I could enjoy it more but it really takes more work than ANY other plant in my yard… cursed!

    [Reply]

    Leigh Stuart Reply:

    Interesting. I have been amazed at some saying how they like this plant. You and I have had our lives or rather yards taken over by this evil weed. New growth has again appeared this spring and I continue to be appalled at its over-the-top aggressiveness. I battle and curse the stuff regularly yet again. When I mow what is growing through the lawn, I now cannot stand the odor! I empathize your plight.

    [Reply]

  53. I had Bishop’s weed in my front garden, first as a small patch (previous owner of the house said, that she might have plant it accidentally with some friend’s plants that were given to her) and I tried to get rid of it.
    Didn’t work.
    I tried to like it. Didn’t work.
    I have Pachysandra ground cover in my front yard, that is green all year round. It overgrew it completely! When it was getting close to neighbor’s front yard, I decided to REALLY get rid of it. I dug out my Pachysandra with the Bishop’s weed, since Bishop’s weed has roots between and around Pachysandra roots. I had really big area to work on, but I slowly dug and packed in plastic bags everything.
    Every morning and evening, I revisited the places that were now clean of vegetation and I removed every tiny Bishop’s weed plant that started to grow, very carefully digging the whole root system out.
    I cleared just about 100 square feet per day. As I was getting close to remove everything in my front garden, the place where I started was completely clear, no more new growth. Little by little, with removing “lice” (as I called it) every day, it seems like after winter, just very little new plants (Bishop’s) are sprouting. Each tiny plant I spray with Roundup and it seems to be not coming back. I have new “lice” almost every day (no more than 2 per day), but the place where I originally started and that got most of the “lice” hand digging every morning and evening is completely clear of the Bishop’s. It isn’t a big area, maybe 200 square feet, but if is really clear!
    I couldn’t use Roundup in large amounts, since I have a lot of flowering bushes and a beautiful Linden tree in my yard.
    My point is: you can get rid of it, you have to be very patient. Each small plant has roots that are shooting off to side. Carefully try to get as many roots out as possible. Do small area every morning, revisit in the evening (yes, they grow so fast!) and in 1 week you will see the results in the area where you started. I might have Bishop’s weed growth in next 2 or 3 years. But I am o.k.with it, checking for new growth all the time. And my Pachysandra is growing back!
    Good luck!

    [Reply]

  54. AF on

    I have read many, but not all of the posts so I’m not positive if this has been mentioned or not. There are 2 types of Bishop’s Weed. Determinate and indeterminate. If you don’t want your entire property consumed by Bishop’s Weed you MUST get the determinate type. I bought my home here in Vermont over 15 years ago. The woman I bought the house from apologized profusely for planting the wrong type—and she was a “Master Gardener”! If you aren’t 100% sure of the type DO NOT PLANT. So all that being said I am now thinking that the tiny greens may be good in as salad greens when mixed with others. I remember my grandfather pointing to the dandelion leaves and remarking that they were a healthier green than anything my mother was buying at the store. When picked small they are very good (and yes, good for you) in salad. Just a note to chemical users. Roundup is now known to contain cancer causing chemicals——-you don’t need chemicals for anything—and they end up in you and the groundwater.

    [Reply]

    Rooke Reply:

    Hear hear!
    I have never before heard mention of the determinate/indeterminate factor. that would
    certainly explain the divided opinion on its controllability. How sad that the whole species gets a bad rap because of a disreputable variety running around.

    [Reply]

  55. Jane McLaughlin on

    I had the variegated type in a confined bed (bordered by a concrete sidewalk, north foundation of garage, and sidewalk surrounding east side of house). It was pretty for 7 or 8 years and then the plants reverted. No longer did we have the variegated look and the all green ones seemed taller. I have had small patches at all houses I have lived in since as the roots came with stuff I transplanted. Usually with the transplant it was variegated again for several years. I thought it was called snow on the mountain but when I discussed it with some other master gardeners recently I learned it was really bishops weed. One landscaper said that when it gets more sun you get the variegation but in deep shade it becomes the darker all green plant. Any one who wants to comment please explain why the change in the plant coloration over several years.

    [Reply]

    Rooke Reply:

    First, I will comment in its name “really” being bisohp’s weed: the only “official” name any plant can have is the Latin; everything else is a vernacular term, and no single vernacular is any more accurate that another. A plant can have many, many vernacular names, and many people have a preference for one over another. Calling it “bishop’s weed” is no *more* correct than calling it “snow on the mountain”. So take heart in that.
    I have never heard of or seen such a crossover in variety; the ones I have on the side of my house are quite well shaded, and all look very pale and variegated. It’s possible there were orher, possibly dormant roots along with it? Or maybe some were pre-existing when you planted your variety? Any number of conditions could bring about a change in the “ruling class” of the plant, as it were. Maybe one thrives with warmer average temperatures, or requires more rain to stay dominant. It’s hard to know. I’d advise keeping an eye on it, though, and watching what it does. Also try to inspect any patches you pass by in your area, see if you can learn anything from that.

    [Reply]

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  57. ak on

    Think of others before you plant this please… This is NOT a native plant to the US. This is a horribly invasive weed. Maybe you think and who knows maybe you are the one person who truly can keep this weed under control. But not all of us want to deal with it. If you plant it, its gonna spread where you don’t garden. A critter may take some over to another yard etc etc. There are plenty of great shade ground cover alternatives, DON’T DO IT. It has DESTROYED my mother’s yard (from a bit the previous owner left) and she works on the yard regularly. She is giving up. DON’T DO IT!

    [Reply]

  58. Linda on

    We have found that rotatilling a trench around the bishop’s weed keeps it contained. It is such a root driven plant, but the roots seem to “know” they won’t survive in the trench. We also plan to solarize with black plastic and using the boiling water technique.

    [Reply]

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