Garlic Mustard Identification
Garlic Mustard, Hedge Garlic
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.
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.
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.