Documenting the seasons of coastal Dorset. I'm a complete amateur so don't trust I'm always right. If ever you see I'm wrong - whether with identifications or in anything else - do say!

Monday, 6 April 2009

AN ERRONEOUS POST - IN PRAISE OF GROUND ELDER (EXCEPT IT'S ALEXANDERS)

THIS POST COMES WITH A HEALTH WARNING!
When I wrote this post,
I thought I was looking at
Ground Elder
I was wrong!
It's ALEXANDERS.
Which means most of this post
is
wrong and
MISLEADING
and nonsense!
Apologies
At the beginning of March, I posted a photo of Ground Elder on Pictures Just Pictures. Julia (We're Going to Need a Bigger Pot) said it would be useful for ID.

(Be careful - don't use these pictures to identify Ground Elder.
They are not of Ground Elder.
They are of a plant called Alexanders.)

Well, at first, I was surprised. I didn't know there was anyone in England, possibly in the whole of the British Isles, who hadn't at one time or another, had a show down with the stuff. (Except she may have been joking. I'm not very good at tone of voice in comments. I hang my head.)
BUT . . . on reflection, it may be there aren't many gardeners . . . (especially town ones) who really know what Ground Elder, in its full glory, is like - because it is generally pulled out before it has a chance to show what it can do.
Nearly everyone knows its spreading capacity - sort of infinite, sideways . . . but what about up?
.
In the hedgerows, it is now about eye level with me. When it's on banks, it's higher. (Well, obviously, but you can see what I mean from the photo.)
One of the reasons I thought
 this was impressive Ground Elder
is because I was mistaken.
It isn't Ground Elder - it's a plant called
Alexanders.
In fact (confession) it's only recently (this year) that I've realised these wonderful plants with their lovely white flowers are Ground Elder. Idiot that I am, I'd thought they were growing majestically through it. I mean, they're not exactly hugging the ground are they? I suppose the point is that they are not trees.
But, look at this.
I'm still wrong.
All the way through this post, I'm wrong.
It's a beautiful plant, all the same -
Alexanders!
If you saw this photo without knowing it's Ground Elder, wouldn't you think it something quite exotic? Wouldn't you think it is the kind of plant that grows only in hot countries? That it should be classed along with orchids and lilies? That it would need special care if it is to be grown in England? Maybe only the people in charge of the greenhouses at Kew could be guaranteed success?
(Now I'm going to hide and wait . . . for . . . Nigel Colborn . . . to come along . . . and say . . . "it isn't Ground Elder at all . . . it's . . . . . . . . . . "!) ALEXANDERS - THAT'S WHAT IT IS!
I thought this was
Aegopodium podagraria - But IT ISN'T!
It's Alexanders
(Smyrnium olusatrum)
I HOPE I'M RIGHT THIS TIME!
_____

7 comments:

cindee said...

I have never heard of ground elder before. I learn something everyday on here! Thanks for posting about it.(-: Have a great week!

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

It's very pretty. I bet if it were hard to grow, everyone would want one.

Monica the Garden Faerie said...

The leaf you showed looks a bit like a spadex from jack in the pulpit or skunk cabbage, both of which I think are really cool. Also, I don't know from ground elder, so thanks for sharing it!

Julia said...

I honestly wasn't joking - I've never had to deal with it before! But it is pretty in its own way isn't it? I'm about to post some photos of Euphorbia and rosemary and all sorts of plants we would pay loads of money for, growing like weeds in Spain!

Frankie @ Veg Plot said...

Just watch it smother that hedge! I still reckon the only good ground elder is a boiled one ;)

. said...

Apparently in Germany they eat the stuff, raw like in a salad. They go out in the woods to collect it.
(So they write in their blogs anyway. Maybe it was an April Fool post.)

I am seriously considering giving it a try. Devouring it before it devours us, sort of thing.
It'll keep us ( and the entire village) in greens for months.

Far Side of Fifty said...

Hi Lucy, Just popping by to say Happy Easter to you and your family! :)