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What is Alliaria Petiolata (Garlic Mustard) and Its Use

Updated on April 13, 2011

Alliaria Petiolata (Garlic Mustard)


The Alliaria (scientific name Alliaria petiole (M. Biebi) Cavara & Grande) is a perennial (biennial), hermaphrodite, the family Brassicaceae, more than a meter high, almost glabrous with very persistent smell of garlic. It is said that the smell remains even in milk from cows that feed on them.



The Cronquist system assigns the Brassicaceae family Capparales order while the modern classification of the position under the APG Brassicales. Always based on the APG classification have also changed the upper levels.


In older classifications the family of the genus Alliaria Crociferae and at times was also called Cruciferae.


The genus Alliaria includes one or two species depending on whether or not the authors consider Alliaria officinalis Alliaria synonymous with petiole.



The specific name is derived from the smell of garlic that is released by rubbing the leaves.




The organic form is emicriptofita bienne (H two years): that is to plant a two-year cycle (two years) with gems placed at ground level (emicriptofita).




Typical tap root with multiple branches.




The stem (only epigean, hypogean that is virtually absent), and pubescent, erect up to 100-120 cm tall, little branched. There is a minimum located at the base of the hair shaft.




·         Lower leaves: they are quite large (up to 15 cm) and finish; petiolate (1-3 cm) and cordate (heart-shaped, but also ovate-triangular), with serrated blade so dull. Average size: width 7-8 cm, length 10 cm


·         Upper leaves: they are smaller diamond shape.


The leaf color is gray-green and slightly glossy, are also absent at flowering time.




The inflorescence stem (5 to 30 cm) in terminal racemes corymb simple or little branched. The flowers are arranged in clusters and are no more than a dozen.




The flower is a tetramer (4 sepals, petals) dialipetalo actinomorphic.


·         I have four sepals, greenish petals and shorter (about: 2.3 mm).


·         The petals are 4, 6-mm-length white and contain a lot of nectar to attract bees.


·         The stamens are six in number.


·         The ovary is super-carpels and two: it is therefore at the top of the perianth.


·         Pollination is done by butterflies (even at night) and bees. In Europe more than 60 species of insects and fungi use it as a source of income, including the larvae of some Lepidoptera.


·         Flowering usually occurs between May and July, often every two years.




The fruit is a capsule slender and narrow patent (upright siliqua, tetragonal), clamshell-trivalve, about 5 cm long and 2 mm thick. The seeds are small, elongated and blacks.


Distribution And Habitat


The area of ​​origin is paleotemperata, it is widespread in Europe, Asia (China and India settentrionale.fino Himalayas), but also in North Africa. In Italy it is common and is found in the bushes in partial shade and moist deciduous forests, or at least rich in nitrogen and organic matter (plant synanthropic), at altitudes between 0 and 1700 m above sea level. It is present in both the marine area (rare) and Montana (common). Is absent in Sardinia.



The Alliaria contains active ingredients useful in herbal medicine (essential oils, glycosides and enzymes) for its salve, expectorant, diuretic.

The seeds, from the vague taste and smell of mustard, can be used to stimulate appetite, but also as wormers and revulsive. While the flowers are used for asthma, the leaves as a diaphoretic cleansing.

It can be prepared as a tea, juice, poultice and lotion. The essential oil (similar to that of garlic) is derived from the roots.


It is used to produce different colors.


The leaves of the plant can be used in salads in the kitchen. In England it is quite common to use it to flavor the sandwich. They seem to be more digestible than those of garlic.

The young sprouts of spring, along with other vegetables, can be used to make soups. Roasted are also used in pies or tortillas.

Other parts used: flowers, fruits and seeds (like mustard).

In the Middle Ages it was used in cured meat (to cover the unpleasant smell after a week of storage without refrigeration!).


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    • daffodil2010 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      Your Welcome thank you for your attentions

    • Cogerson profile image


      7 years ago from Virginia

      A very informative and interesting hub...thanks for posting


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