Are Snow-on-the-Mountain Plants Invasive?

Updated: May 16, 2024

Snow-on-the-mountain, also known as bishops weed or goutweed, is an aggressive growing plant. Manage its spread or remove it from gardens.

How to Get Rid of Snow-on-the-Mountain Plants

Gewohnlicher Giersch, Giersch, Geibfub, Bluhend, Blute, Bluten, Aegopodium Podagraria, Ground Elder, Herb Gerard, Bishop's Weed, Goutweed, Gout Wort,Frank Hecker/Alamy Stock Photo
Snow-on-the-mountain is also known as bishops weed or goutweed.

“I’ve been fighting snow-on-the-mountain for more than 40 years, but now it’s taken over my flower bed. What should I do?” asks Birds & Blooms reader Janet Painter of Wanesburg, Ohio.

Horticultural expert Melinda Myers says, “Many of our worst weeds and invasive plants were once prized landscape plants due to their vigor and ability to withstand adverse growing conditions. This allowed them to take over garden beds and nearby natural spaces. Timing and persistence are key to managing this plant, which also goes by goutweed, bishops weed and Aegopodium podagraria.

Consider removing any desirable plants from the garden bed and potting them up for the growing season. Monitor these to make sure no roots or rhizomes of the snow-on-the-mountain have hitched a ride with them. Then edge the garden bed to prevent the plants from spreading into the nearby lawn or garden and any you may have missed providing needed nutrients to the covered plants. Cover the bed with black plastic or black landscape fabric and secure the edges.

Leave it in place for at least one growing season. I suggest planting annuals in the garden the next year in case some of the roots and rhizomes survive and you need to repeat this process. Regular mowing can also slow the spread of this plant, and repeat applications of a total vegetation killer can also help. But it takes years, as you discovered, to eliminate this plant.

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Snow-on-the-Mountain Spreads by Rhizomes

Really vigorous growers are not ideal near less vigorous ones—they claim the entire bed and require more work. Choose plants that cover at the same rate. Spreading type affects growth, too. Some, like bugleweed, spread indefinitely, but because of its shallow roots, it’s easy to control. Snow-on-the-mountain, on the other hand, spreads by rhizomes that are almost impossible to keep in bounds.

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About the Expert

Melinda Myers is the official gardening expert for Birds & Blooms. She is a TV/radio host, author and columnist who has written more than 20 gardening books. Melinda earned a master’s degree in horticulture from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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