Garlic Mustard

Identification

Lush groundcover with 1-3′ stalk with pretty little white flowers at top. Antler-like seed pods then grow large. Base leaves and first year plant leaves are rounded; leaves up the stalk are heart shaped.

Characteristics

If unchecked will carpet an area and crowd out native species; has alleopathic properties chemically altering the soil to harm native species. Biennial with roundish leaves on first year plants and producing flower stalks in 2nd year. Seed pods have hundreds to thousands more seed which are released in mid to late summer or early fall (the sunnier the spot the earlier the dispersal). Seeds can last 5 or more years in the ground seed bank.

It is an edible (introduced from Europe as a salad green);  younger plants are said to be better eating.  For recipe ideas, see our newsletter article from Spring 2020 Eating the Weeds.

Control

Very easy to control with attention and diligence, but once seeds are established in the seed bank, will still require monitoring and reduced pulling for 5+ years. Pull gently at base of flower stalk and whole root system will pull up. Put entire plant in trash bag and dispose as trash (as it would be very labor intensive to remove seed pods). Once area is clear of flower/seed stalks, visit it again later in the season to pull the inevitable stragglers. For a large area, cutting and mowing is also a possible control, with the advantage of not disturbing the soil, but plants can put up new stalks so repeat mowing during the season would be required.

Links and Resources

For more information on how to identify and control Garlic Mustard, please refer to the resources below:

  1. Mass Audubon for identification
  2. Invasive.org for identification and control
  3. Newsletter article with recipes Eating the Weeds

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