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Garlic Mustard Identification

Updated on August 26, 2012
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Sean has been in the industry of gardening and landscaping since 2006. He is also a Certified Arborist that tends to focus on plant health.

Common Name
Garlic Mustard, Hedge Garlic

Latin Name
Alliaria petiolata

Mature with flowers in the second season
Mature with flowers in the second season
First season rosette stage. Best stage for eradication.
First season rosette stage. Best stage for eradication.

Identifying Garlic Mustard

Garlic mustard is a biennial that has a deep, white taproot. Most people recognize garlic mustard after it has entered its second season. It is a highly invasive plant within the U.S. Eradication is very difficult and usually unsuccessful. The only benefit of garlic mustard is the leaves and taproot are edible when cooked correctly.

Environment: Wooded areas, forests, undisturbed areas

Leaves: The first growing season will produce a rosette of heart shaped leaves. The second growing season will produce jagged, angular leaves. The leaves can be cooked and eaten with other greens.

Flowers: The flowers consist of 4 white petals that are about 2 – 3mm in diameter and grow in clusters.

Seeds: The seeds are encased in an erect, slender four-sided pod that is 4 - 6 cm long. The pod contains two rows of shiny black seeds.

Roots: It has a large, white taproot that smells similar to horseradish. The root is edible and can be used in the same manner as horseradish.

Ecological Threats of Garlic Mustard

Garlic mustard rapidly invades native and quality forests, woodlands, and oak savannahs. Disturbed soil is also susceptible to garlic mustard invasions. Native herbaceous cover declines when garlic mustard invades due to a chemical exuded by the the garlic mustard that disrupts native plants.

Eradicating Garlic Mustard

The best method of eradication is early detection, preferably when the plant is still a rosette and is not producing seed pods. Overpopulated garlic mustard is a major restorative project if eradication decided upon.

Mechanical Eradication
Physically destroying the crown and taproot is generally effective, but must be done several times in an overgrown area over a period of several years.

Chemical Eradication
Herbicides are an option, but must be selected and handled with care when using in natural areas. Glyphosate is very effective, but will harm or kill non-target plants if contacted. Apply herbicides according to their label directions, and always use personal protective equipment. Be very careful to eliminate pesticide drift that may contact other properties, people, pets, and non-target plants.



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      Rukhsana syed 4 years ago

      This is really good information and interesting.I like this page very much.Thanks a lot for this hard working of yours.