Ed Golson Outdoor Education

Garlic mustard

Scientific Name: Alliaria petiolata

Description:  This is an invasive plant to North America that is native to Europe.  These plants have a two year life cycle, with the first year growing as a seedling, and the second year flowering.  Before this plant can grow it needs to be exposed to a long period of severe cold.  When it does grow it has kidney shaped leaves with scalloped edges, and they grow on stalks that are a half to two inches long.  When the leaves are crushed they release a distinct garlic or onion odor.  These plants grow very fast and reach 3 to 4 feet in length.  Once mature, they can produce 350 - 8000 seeds!  That makes this species very hard to control.

Habitat:  This plant is found in the understory of many forests where there normally is little sunlight.  It has adapted to growing in the areas where trees have been cleared.  Many forest trails, and roadsides are covered by this plant.
Garlic mustard, basal rosette.
What is the problem?  This plant blocks the sunlight of many spring bloomers such as spring beauties, trout lilies, and trilliums.  Another problem is that it disrupts the habitat quality of many mollusks, salamanders, and insects because it is produced over other plants. It also grows incredibly fast, expanding about 20 feet per year which makes the plant very hard to extinguish.


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