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what is bishop weed seeds

How to Get Rid of Invasive Bishop Weed (Goutweed)

Bishop’s weed is a bummer! It is one of those plants that just will not go away. Once it has taken root, it more or less smothers everything in its path.

It crawls across the ground in moist, partly shaded areas. It creates a dense groundcover that prevents other plants from developing. It spreads above ground with seeds and underground via runners. If you have bishop’s weed, it is very likely that you will always have bishop’s weed, whether you like it or not.

Bishop’s weed is also known as goutweed (Aegopodium podagraria). It was introduced to the U.S. as an ornamental plant from Europe and Asia. By the 1860’s, bishop’s weed was recognized as an invasive plant in Rhode Island as its ability to grow, spread, and smother was nearly unstoppable. Its damage to native vegetation and to the wildlife dependent on those native varieties is immeasurable. That makes bishop’s weed a most unwanted plant.

Today, bishop’s weed continues to hold a spot on invasive plants lists in Rhode Island as well as in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Wisconsin. It is a noxious weed in many additional states.

Identifying Bishops Weed

Bishop’s weed resembles Queen Anne’s Lace. It has dainty white flowers that reach out from attractive solid or variegated leaves. It grows as tall as 3 feet, and it spreads rampantly. Check out the video and resources below for images to identify bishop’s weed.

Eliminating Bishops Weed

Bishop’s weed truly is tough to get rid of. If you already have some in your garden, you are probably aware of just how aggressive and tenacious it is. It grows through underground rhizomes. When broken or cut apart, the pieces of rhizome will develop into new plants. Complete removal of the rhizomes is necessary. Although it’s difficult to remove the entire rhizome, it is possible.

Work in a contained area. For example, start with a 2 foot by 2 foot square. Cut the entire bishop’s weed in the area down to the ground. Dig up the soil, the plant material, and the roots and rhizomes. Carefully sift out all of the rhizomes and roots, and throw them away. Replace the soil in the area, and begin the next section. You will need to work quickly between sections so the clean areas aren’t recontaminated with new runners.

Another method for controlling bishop’s weed is called solarization. Mow an area of bishop’s weed down to less than an inch tall. Layer several tarps over the mown section. Secure the tarps to the ground with rocks. As the sun heats up the area, a larger amount of heat will become trapped under the tarps and eventually burn and suffocate the plants and the rhizomes. The tarps may need to be left covering the ground for 1 to 2 weeks.

The most effective way to remove bishop’s weed, although not one hundred percent successful, is to use an herbicide. A basic broadleaf lawn weed spray will work the best. Several applications may be necessary. But remember, when using an herbicide, there is risk to other plants in the area, so weigh the use of chemical treatments carefully.

Alternatives to Bishops Weed

While bishop’s weed continues to be available to purchase in stores, it is a plant that is an inappropriate choice for a careful gardener who knows of its destructive capabilities. There are several plants that make great alternatives to bishop’s weed.

A nice native alternative to the invasive bishop’s weed in the Northeast is Golden Alexanders (Zizia aurea). Golden Alexanders bloom in the spring with clusters of yellow flowers. They attract butterflies and bees for a happy, humming garden.

Canada anemone is another alternative to bishop’s weed. It is native to most of the U.S. It is an aggressive grower that is ideal for sunny areas that have succumbed to weeds. The Canada anemone has tenacious habit, so it is a good replacement for the non-native bishop’s weed.

Do your part in creating a healthy ecosystem by recognizing, avoiding and getting rid of invasive plants like bishop’s weed!


Ajwain (also known as carom seeds or bishop’s weed), is an uncommon spice except in certain areas of Asia. It is the small seed-like fruit of the Bishop’s Weed plant, (Trachyspermum ammi syn. Carum copticum), egg-shaped and grayish in colour. The plant has a similarity to parsley. Because of their seed-like appearance, the fruit pods are sometimes called ajwain seeds or bishop’s weed seeds.

Ajwain is often confused with lovage seed; even some dictionaries mistakenly state that ajwain comes from the lovage plant. Ajwain is also called ‘owa’ in Marathi, ‘vaamu’ in Telugu, “omam” (ஓமம்) in Tamil, “ajwana” in Kannada and “ajmo” in Gujarati.

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Flavour and aroma

Raw ajwain smells almost exactly like thyme because it also contains thymol, but is more aromatic and less subtle in taste, as well as slightly bitter and pungent. It tastes like thyme or caraway, only stronger. Even a small amount of raw ajwain will completely dominate the flavor of a dish.

In Indian cuisine, ajwain is almost never used raw, but either dry-roasted or fried in ghee or oil. This develops a much more subtle and complex aroma, somewhat similar to caraway but “brighter”. Among other things, it is used for making a type of paratha, called ‘ajwain ka paratha’. Essential oils such as Ajowan oil should be used properly. To further inform users of essential oil safety, Liberty Natural Products provides material safety data sheet’s (MSDS) for ajowan oil, along with many other essential oils, at Liberty Natural Products MSDS sheets


Ajwain originated in the Middle East, possibly in Egypt. It is now primarily grown and used in the Indian Subcontinent, but also in Iran, Egypt and Afghanistan. It is sometimes used as an ingredient in berbere, an Eritrean and Ethiopian spice mixture.

It reduces flatulence caused by beans when it is cooked with beans. It may be used as a substitute for cumin as well. It is also traditionally known as a digestive aid and an antiemetic.

Photosensitization in sheep fed Ammi majus (Bishop’s weed) seed

Ammi majus (bishop’s weed) grows on the coastal region of southern United States and in other parts of the world. This plant causes severe photosensitization in livestock and probably contributes to the severe photosensitization outbreaks seen in Texas. Sheep were fed finely ground seed of A majus via stomach tube at dose rates of 1, 2, 4, and 8 g/kg of body weight and exposed to sunlight. The single dose of 8 g/kg produced severe clinical signs (in 24 to 48 hours): cloudy cornea, conjunctivokeratitis, photophobia, and edema of the muzzle, ears, and vulva. Daily dosing at 2 and 4 g/kg produced (in 72 to 96 hours) similar signs, whereas the smallest dose (1 g/kg) produced mild irritation of the muzzle. Pathologic changes included (1) corneal edema and marked neutrophilic infiltration of the cornea and corneal/ciliary process, (2) subacute ulcerative and exudative dermatitis of the skin of ears, muzzle, and vulva, and (3) mild focal tubular degeneration (vacuolar type) of the kidney.