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Garlic Mustard is Here - Kill it!
Published: 4/25/2024
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You may be seeing a relatively short plant, 12-18” tall, in your yard or woodland starting to bloom. It has a dainty white flower at the top. Kill it! Garlic mustard is a highly invasive plant that can take over a natural area. It is originally from Europe and Asia and was brought over to North America in the mid-1800s for its herbal and medicinal qualities. It is edible and can be used as a garnish for your salads if you like, but it does not belong in our natural areas. Once it is done blooming, it puts out long seed pods that are filled with thousands of seeds that spread on the fur and feet of wildlife, and on the shoes of humans. Fortunately, it is a biennial that lives just two years, so consistent effort to remove re-seeded plants over time can restore an infested area to a natural condition, but if you don’t do anything, it will spread as there aren’t a lot of herbivores or insects that eat it enough to keep it in check. Individually, the plant can be attractive, but its impact on natural areas is truly ugly as it crowds out native wildflowers that benefit wildlife much more than garlic mustard does. You can pull it anytime or cut it close to the ground shortly after the blooming is done with clippers or a weed whipper so it won’t have the time and energy to sprout back and create new flowers. If you chop up the plant after you cut it, that will keep the cut plant from continuing to provide nutrients to the developing seeds, even after it is cut. Or you can put the plants in your garbage. Do NOT put it in your compost pile as the seeds can continue to develop and occupy the compost. If you’re walking in the woods and find some, pull it as close to the ground as you can and drape the plants on a branch or bush or something that keeps it in the air so it dries out completely. That will also kill the seeds, but if you find a plant with developing seed heads, try to take those with you and put them in the garbage. In case you’re concerned about hurting similar-looking wildflowers, check the leaves. Only garlic mustard has triangular shaped leaves with small 4 petaled white flowers at the top as shown in the photos.