The Aegopodium Avenger

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LAST YEAR IT WAS WISTERIA VINE that was the bane of my gardening existence. The stuff was so out of control it had taken down a shed and killed trees by strangulation. Hired landscapers hacked down much of it; I pulled and cut many trash bags full; and in late fall, my daughter and I applied Round-Up to the cut ends of sprouting wisteria with surgical precision. Though we didn’t eradicate it completely, the situation is much improved.

This year it’s goutweed, or aegopodium podagraria, a super-invasive groundcover that, left to its own devices, would take over the entire backyard, that’s driving me crazy. I have huge sheets of it in several areas. I tackled one of them yesterday, on hands and knees, using a claw tool to pull up as much as I  could of the roots, feeling like a prisoner trying to dig his way out of jail with a teaspoon.

What makes goutweed so pernicious is that it spreads three ways. First, by underground rhizomes, or horizontally running roots a few inches under the surface. It also puts down taproots, like dandelion, and it seeds in late season, below.

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It’s practically unkillable, according to contributors to the forum on Dave’s Garden, a very useful site for all things plant-related. “Aegopodium laughs at Round-Up,” one person wrote, and indeed, mine did (see the pitiful results of my spritzing, below).

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Once I’ve removed all I can of the root (it can re-sprout from any tiny piece you may miss), I cover the bare soil with cardboard and old rugs, below (porous landscape fabric isn’t good enough, apparently). Soon I’ll put a thick layer of leaves or wood chips on top. And if anything dares to re-sprout, which I’m sure it will, I’ll hit it again with the more concentrated form of Round-Up. Sadly, when it comes to aegopodium, organic solutions just don’t cut it.

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I’m pretty sure that both the wisteria and the goutweed were originally planted as ornamentals, perhaps thirty years ago — the goutweed possibly as the prettier, variegated bishop’s weed, which then reverted to all-green and ran amok during years of neglect.

Weed-killing is a nasty business, but it’s got to be done — if you want a garden, that is, and I do. Lucky I don’t have a day job.

About cara

I blog for fun here at casaCARA, and write about architecture, interiors, gardens and travel for many national magazines and websites. My recently published posts and articles can be found here: https://casacara.wordpress.com/recent-articles/
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3 Responses to The Aegopodium Avenger

  1. kathleen says:

    Cara,
    Ugh. I feel your pain. That sounds as difficult to kill as chameleon plant. See here: http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/go/2164/

    I noticed that Home Depot was selling it a couple of weeks ago. It is the most invasive plant I’ve ever had. And, so innocent looking! I had it at my old house and tried everything to get rid of it, to no avail.

  2. Coppermaven says:

    Ugh! No wonder why I noticed it was spreading. I’ve got some “killing” to do!

  3. cara says:

    Yes, Kathleen, houttuynia (chameleon plant, as you call it) can be super-invasive. It is a nuisance in Brooklyn, I can testify. But oddly, upstate it’s quite well-behaved. I guess it has to do with conditions.

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