Goutweed is a very aggressive plant that often dominates the herbaceous layer of forests, to the likely detriment of the native plants. Effects on wildlife have to be further studied. Deer tend to avoid these while grazing in forests, and prefer native species, giving them a competitive edge. These plants can reproduce relatively quick through vegetative means, and form dense stands, crowding out native species, ultimately reducing biodiversity of an area.
Aedgopodium podagraria is native to Europe and northern Asia. It was initially introduced to the United States as an ornamental. It was widely planted in gardens and has been seen as a frequent garden escapee.
Goutweed is a rhizomatous herbaceous perennial in the carrot family, that spreads mainly by vegetative meanss. Leaves that arise from the rhizomes are about one foot tall and tend to greatly out-number the fertile,flower-bearing stems. The leaves are long-petioled and divided into leaflets arranged into groups of three. The leaflets are toothed or irregularly lobed, green or variegated green and white. Fertile stems grow from 2 to 3 feet tall and bear umbels of small, white, five-petaled flowers in mid-summer. The brown seeds are small and elongate, and ripen in late summer.
Goutweed grows well in partial sun to full shade, and has a preference for well-drained, evenly moist soils. It can tolerate poor soils and can withstand a wide range of soilpH values. Most types of eastern deciduous forests are vulnerable to goutweed invasion. Infestations can typically be traced to abandoned or ill-kept gardens.