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garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata)

Posted in Species Profiles

Description:  Garlic mustard is a biennial herb characterized by the garlic-like odor of its crushed leaves. Garlic mustard is biennial, meaning during its first year, it produces a rosette of kidney shaped leaves near the ground, which remain green throughout the winter. During the second year, stalks grow 2-4 feet tall bearing sharply toothed triangular leaves and small white flowers. Fruits are long green capsules which turn brown and split to release seeds.


Habitat:  Garlic mustard prefers shady areas in mesic upland forests, along roadsides, and fencerows. Tends to establish along edges and move inwards along streams and trails.


Invasive Traits: Garlic mustard chokes out native wildflowers growing on the forest floor. It also produces chemicals, which suppress soil fungi which form mutualistic relationships with trees. Large quantities of seed are produced which can remain in the seedbank for 10 years. Seeds are easily dispersed by humans, animals, and water.


Control: Hand pulling of second year stems can be effective when roots are removed and remains are bagged and transported off site. First year rosettes can be sprayed with herbicide to prevent second year growth. All rosettes must be killed during treatment to prevent survivors from returning with greater growth and reproduction.


Further Reading

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources 2006

Rowe & Swearingen 2005



[IMG_0632_ceh] seedling

[IMG_0010_ZSB] – flower

[IMG_1460_SRE] – seedheads

[alliaria_5] infestation