Key factsIntroduced: Introduced to the US in 1868 by settlers as a salad green and pot herb.
Key ID Features: Toothed, triangular to heart-shaped leaves. Rosettes of leaves or white flowers on tall plants.
Interesting tidbit: If harvested when young (before flowering), greens may be used in a garlicky salad green, or made into pesto! Garlic mustard has high levels of vitamins A and C.
What problems does garlic mustard cause?Like most invasive plants on the Top 20 list for the Grand Traverse region, garlic mustard replaces native plants in high quality natural areas, which in turn reduces critical food resources for birds, butterflies, and other wildlife. In addition to physically crowding out native plants-especially spring ephemerals like trillium and violets-garlic mustard releases chemicals into the soil that hinder the growth of other plants. Furthermore, few native herbivores will eat garlic mustard, giving it a large competitive advantage over native plants. The replacement of native plants by garlic mustard can hinder forest regeneration by limiting tree seedling growth. Garlic mustard seeds are able to live in the soil for at least 7 years before sprouting.
What does garlic mustard look like?
Garlic mustard is a biennial herb that usually grows to 2 to 3 feet when mature, though it spends its
Garlic mustard flowers and adult leaves. Photo by Wisconsin DNR.first growing season and the following winter as asmall leafy rosette. Leaves are triangular or heart-shaped, and are roughly and irregularly toothed. The second year stem is topped by clusters of small, white, 4-petaled flowers. All parts of the plant smell of garlic when crushed, especially early in the season. Adult plants die in midsummer, but persist as tall dead stalks with thin seed pods. Although tolerating a range of conditions, garlic mustard is most common in moist forest edges, open woods, and shaded roadsides.
How do I manage garlic mustard?
Pulling garlic mustard is very effective in small populations. Take care to remove the root, and pulling should be done inearly spring, before the plant goes to seed. Garlic mustard is an extremely hardy plant, and can re-sprout in a compost pile or if left out, and seeds can develop even if the plant was not flowering when pulled. There are many methods of disposing of pulled garlic mustard to explore. Larger populations may be managed through herbicide use; spraying is best done in early spring and late fall, when garlic mustard is one of the few green things, so there is little risk to native plants.
For more information on invasive plants:Visit HabitatMatters.org. You may also contact us to schedule an engaging presentation for your garden club or any group interested in improving landscapes for the benefit of natural areas.
Want to eat garlic mustard?Try one of these many resources for recipes, search for more, or make up your own!
Please make sure the area you harvest from has not been sprayed with herbicides.
Garlic mustard recipes from Friends of Silgo Creek
Garlic mustard and other recipes from Wildman Steve Brill
Eat it to Beat it! cookbook from Appalachian Forest Heritage Area
Roulade and ravioli from The 3 Foragers
From Pest to Pesto cookbook from Potomac Highlands CWPMA
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