Healing Weeds - Getting a closer contact with the healing world of herbs and wild plants.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Ground Elder

Aegopodium podagaria
NL: Zevenblad / F: 
L'égopode podagraire

Also known as goutweed, ground elder is one of the first abundant edible greens that appear in spring time, together with cow parsley and nettles. It has a long history of being used as medicine-food. It was cultivated as food crop in the middle ages (probably before that too), and that seems to me a very smart thing since it is such a strong plant that does not need much care, growing strongly in harsh conditions, at a time when not many other plant foods are available. 

The young tender leaves are preferred, before the plant is in flower. The flowering point can be postponed however by harvesting the top of the plants regularly. When the leaves are a bit more mature they can get a less appealing taste and they may act as laxative. Choosing only younger leaves before the flowers come out seems to be the way to go! They can be prepared as spinach, in stews, soups, sandwich, pies, you name it.

In old folk medicine ground elder got a good reputation for helping to prevent and treat gout, arthritis and rheumatic complaints. For that purpose, ground elder was particular popular in its external applications, as warm poultice (leaves and roots). A poultice of the leaves can also be employed to help heal burns, bites and wounds. It is also diuretic and has a mild sedative effect. 

Here is a video to help you to identify ground elder:

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