Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata)

The bane of woodlands!!! This non-native plant can overrun a woodland area with a “take no prisoners” approach. When we purchased our land in 2005, which included 3 acres of woods, there was a monoculture of garlic mustard. We began in earnest to remove it.

Garlic mustard is a biennial herb. First year plants are small rosettes and second year plants grow much taller, flower, and set seeds, many, many, many seeds! These seeds are dispersed via foot traffic, animal fur, and water movement. Garlic mustard is allelopathic and can quickly outcompete any natives eventually leaving the woods with an unhealthy, singular flora component. My opinion is that it is never a good thing to have a monoculture. Diversity is the key to a good healthy environment. Frankly, that can be applied to all aspects of life!!!

Garlic Mustard (Allaria petiolata)
First year rosette of garlic mustard

Garlic Mustard (Allaria petiolata)
Second year garlic mustard plant in bloom.

Garlic mustard is one of the last plants to stay green in the fall and one of the first to green up in the spring. This is convenient from a management perspective.

See this article for management information.

A few of the plants suppressed prior to our garlic mustard removal include shooting star, Indian pipe, lady’s slipper, wild geranium, wood anemone, solomon’s seal, false Solomon seal, and yellow pimpernel. Below is a picture of our “purple carpet” of wild geranium. When these bloom, the woods have a wonderful light perfume-y aroma!

Wild geranium in woods
Once the garlic mustard was controlled, the native plants returned. This shows a carpet of wild geranium.